Two UN staff among dead in Kabul bombing

Posters of candidates line the streets in Afghanistan for the 20 August 2009 presidential election

18 August 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his deep distress at the news that two United Nations staff members were among those killed in today’s suicide bombing in Kabul, which reportedly killed at least seven people, just two days ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential and provincial council elections.

The two staffers killed in the attack, the second incident of its kind in three days, were Afghan nationals, as is a third colleague who was wounded and is currently being treated for his injuries.

A statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said the Secretary-General was “deeply distressed” by the news, and offered his deepest condolences to the families of those killed and his best wishes for a rapid recovery to the injured.

Mr. Ban’s Special Representative, Kai Eide, said the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is in the process of contacting the families of the deceased.

“I am shocked and greatly saddened to have learned that two of my staff members were among those killed in today’s suicide bombing,” Mr. Eide, who heads UNAMA, said in a statement. “I condemn completely those responsible.”

Speaking at a news conference earlier today, Mr. Eide stated that security is his main concern as the country prepares to go to the polls on 20 August.

“I appeal again to those who threaten with violence – and use violence – to allow Afghans to choose who should be the future leader of Afghanistan,” he said.

“I would like to repeat: this is an election organized by the Afghans themselves, not by the international community,” he stressed. “It is an election where the international community is and remains truly, totally impartial. It is up to the Afghans to choose their own leaders.”

Forty-one presidential candidates, including two women, are running for the nation’s top post while more than 3,000 Afghans are competing for provincial council seats during the elections, which are being organized by the Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC).

The other challenge, Mr. Eide noted, is organizing an election effectively in a country “which is in conflict, which has a weak infrastructure, where remote areas are difficult to access and where illiteracy is high.”

“But I can assure all Afghans that everything has been done that can be done to make the elections credible and as secure as possible under the current circumstances.”


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