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Pakistan: Ban speaks out against string of deadly attacks

Pakistan: Ban speaks out against string of deadly attacks

Violent attacks have become frequent in Pakistan in recent days
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned a wave of attacks in Pakistan in recent days which have claimed dozens of lives, including those of aid workers helping the country’s most vulnerable.

Suicide bomb attacks targeting an army convoy today in Pakistan’s second largest city, Lahore, claimed dozens of lives and injured more than 100 people, according to media reports.

It comes on the heels of another attack earlier this week, in the same city, which killed some 15 people.

On Wednesday, the office of the non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vision International – working to assist survivors of a 2005 earthquake – was attacked in the district of Mansehra, in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

According to the organization, six staff members were killed when gunmen threw grenades, opened fire on staff and detonated a bomb inside its compound. The attack also injured eight people.

Mr. Ban, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, “reiterates that no cause can justify such inhuman and indiscriminate acts of violence.”

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes yesterday decried the “appalling” attack against the aid workers in Mansehra, calling it a part of a “continuing pattern of assaults” on aid workers in Pakistan.

“The Secretary-General and I both condemn that unreservedly and call for humanitarian workers in Pakistan, as elsewhere, who are simply there to help the people of Pakistan to be protected and not attacked in this way,” Mr. Holmes said.

Attacks on aid workers in Pakistan are on the rise, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In Mansehra district in 2008, five staff members of the organization Plan International were murdered by armed attackers.

In addition, 12 UN staff members were killed and 12 others injured in four separate violent incidents since January 2009, including a suicide attack on the main office in Islamabad of the World Food Programme (WFP) last October that killed five.

Despite the enormous risks, the UN and its partners last year helped the Pakistani Government assist several million people displaced by fighting as well as host communities.