In the wake of dozens of civilian deaths – the most recent, a suicide attack in Jalalabad on Sunday – a high-level United Nations representative on the ground called for “the architects of this appalling crime” to be brought to justice.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the suicide attack that left at least 19 civilians dead, and expressed concern over a recent spate of incidents targeting schools and medical centres. More than 20 others, including children, were injured in the blast.
“The architects of this appalling crime must be brought to justice,” said Ingrid Hayden on Monday, the deputy head of UNAMA, and Deputy Special Representative.
According to a statement from the mission, most of the suicide bomber’s victims were from Afghanistan’s small Sikh and Hindu community – part of a delegation on its way to meet President Ashraf Ghani, who was visiting the capital city of Nangarhar province, in the Khogyani district.
Media reports noted that among the dead in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, was the only Sikh candidate who was standing in upcoming legislative elections.
UN chief, António Guterres also condemned the attack, in a statement, extending his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.
"Any attack deliberately targeting civilians is unjustifiable and in clear violation of international law," said the UN chief, calling on "all parties to uphold their obligation to protect civilians, including minority communities, and cease targeting civilians and civilian facilities."
Elsewhere in Nangarhar, two civilian night watchmen were beheaded, a third killed and a school torched on Saturday in an attack by a local affiliate of the ISIL terrorist group, known as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), which has been carrying out a campaign against schools and educational workers in the region.
And on Monday, missiles were fired into Jalalabad – hitting the Najmuljihad high school, with other projectiles landing nearby. There were no reports of casualties.
UNAMA also expressed concern over recent incidents impacting health facilities. On 25 June, a mortar hit the Andar district hospital in Ghazni province killing a doctor and a vaccination worker, and on 1 July, in the northern province of Faryab, three civilians, including a woman and child, were killed. Several others, mainly women and children, were injured in an Afghan National Army helicopter attack in the Pashtun Kot district.
The attack allegedly targeted Taliban combatants at a health clinic where civilian patients were also receiving treatment, said UNAMA.
The UN stressed that all parties to the conflict must at all times uphold their obligations to protect civilians and reiterated its call to immediately cease targeting civilians and civilian objects, including schools and health facilities, in compliance with the international humanitarian law.
The UN in Afghanistan expressed its condolences to the loved-ones of all those killed and wished a full and speedy recovery to the injured.