The United Nations strongly condemned a deadly suicide attack that occurred today in the northern Afghan province of Faryab, killing 15 civilians and injuring nearly 50 others.
According to reports, a suicide attacker with a body-borne improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in the centre of the provincial capital, Maimana. Local health officials have confirmed that two children were among those killed, and the injured included a pregnant woman.
“The continuing rise in civilian deaths from IEDs is tragic. Their use in a distinctly civilian location such as a market is atrocious and cannot be justified,” the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, said in a statement.
He reiterated the many calls made by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for an immediate stop to the indiscriminate use of IEDs, especially in areas known to be populated by civilians.
UNAMA stressed that the indiscriminate use of IEDs may amount to a war crime. International humanitarian law – which binds all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan – strictly prohibits the use of weapons and attacks that do not distinguish between civilians and military objectives.
Later in the day, the members of the UN Security Council, in a statement to the press, echoed Mr. Haysom’s strong condemnation of the attack, and reiterated their serious concern at the threats posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and illegal armed groups to the local population, national security forces, and international military and international assistance efforts in Afghanistan.
“The members of the Security Council reiterated that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards Afghan-led peace, democracy and stability in Afghanistan, which is supported by the people and the Government of Afghanistan and the international community,” said Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxemburg, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for the month.
In the first two and a half months of 2014, IED tactics, which include suicide and complex attacks, have killed 190 civilians in Afghanistan, a 14 per cent increase from the same period last year.
UNAMA extended its condolences to the families of all of those killed and wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
The latest violence comes as Afghanistan prepares to hold presidential and provincial council elections on 5 April, and amid an ongoing transition process by which the Government is assuming greater responsibility for its own affairs.