The Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations mission in Afghanistan strongly condemned two attacks that took place today, one in Kabul and the other in the eastern province of Paktika, which have killed and injured scores of civilians.
The suicide attack in the district of Urgun in Paktika, in which a vehicle packed with explosives detonated at a busy market, is said to have killed at least 43 civilians, including eight children, and injured at least 95 others.
The death toll makes it the worst single attack this year, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement.
Mr. Ban strongly condemned the “despicable criminal act” and said such attacks, directed against civilians, are serious violations of international humanitarian law, according to his spokesperson.
His Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, also decried the attack, highlighting its timing: “Today's appalling attack during Ramadan – an occasion that should observed in a spirit of peace and compassion – should be condemned in the strongest possible terms and the perpetrators must be held accountable.”
The Mission noted that the Taliban denied their involvement in the attack and have stated they intend to investigate it.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack on a shuttle bus carrying civilian government workers in the capital, Kabul. The insurgent group detonated a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) against the bus, killing two people and injuring another five.
“This unlawful attack deliberately targeted civilians on their way to work,” said Mr. Kubiš. “Civilians should be able to go about their daily lives, including going to their place of work, without the risk of such horrific violence.”
The Mission and Mr. Ban expressed heartfelt condolences to those who have lost their loved ones in these attacks and wished a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.
UNAMA also reiterated that international humanitarian law, to which all parties to the armed conflict are bound, prohibits the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate tactics, in particular, improvised explosive devices.
Further, UNAMA renewed its call on the Taliban to immediately cease directing attacks on civilians, to stop the use of indiscriminate weapons and to halt attacks in civilian populated areas. It also highlighted that the use of illegal, indiscriminate IEDs may amount to a war crime.
In a late night statement, the Security Council underlined the need to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of terrorism, and “urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Afghan authorities.”
The 15-member Council reaffirmed that “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”
The members also said they had reiterated their serious concern about the threats posed by Taliban, Al-Qaida and other terrorist and extremist groups, as well as illegal armed groups, to the local population, national security forces and international military and international assistance efforts.