The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today condemned a suicide bombing in the central province of Parwan which killed at least 10 children and injured six others, warning that such indiscriminate attacks could amount to international humanitarian law violations.
An explosive-rigged bicycle reportedly detonated in the Qalandarkhail area of Bagram district, as Afghan National Police and international military forces were on foot patrol nearby.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 12 civilians and six service personnel, and injured at least eight people.
“A suicide attack amongst a group of children is beyond horrific,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš.
“I reiterate UNAMA’s [UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan] repeated calls to the Taliban to immediately ban the use of indiscriminate weapons and to cease attacks in civilian populated areas,” added Mr. Kubis, who is also the head of the Mission.
In its 2013 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, UNAMA noted noted an increase of 34 per cent in the number of children killed or injured, as compared with the previous year. The Mission’s human rights team documented more than 1,750 child casualties, at least one-third of whom were killed by improvised explosive devices.
Today’s attack comes as the country is awaiting the announcement of a new president. UNAMA noted that preliminary results were announced yesterday from the 14 June run-off vote between candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.
“The Mission further notes that the results are not final and are subject to change, and that it would be premature for either of the candidates to claim victory,” it said, reiterating also its call for the candidates and their supporters to exercise restraint.
UNAMA urged the electoral institutions – the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission (IECC) – to cooperate within the framework of their mandates to conduct additional audits of polling stations in “rigorous, timely and expeditious manner,” in particular those which would provide for the investigation of ballots from more than 7,000 polling stations.
The Mission encouraged the IEC and the IECC “to demonstrate their commitment to the future of the country by taking the responsibility to fully discharge their mandates while demonstrating the utmost impartiality, transparency and responsibility.” It also urged the institutions to consider other measures that would enhance the integrity of the electoral process.