UN defiant in face of Taliban attack

KABUL ; The UN has condemned a Taliban raid on a guesthouse in Kabul that killed six of its employees and vowed it would not deter its work in Afghanistan.

The head of the UN mission, Kai Eide, said this was a “very dark day” but the UN remained “committed to Afghanistan”.

The three attackers were also killed, along with two Afghan security personnel and a civilian.

In a separate attack, rockets were fired at the city’s five-star Serena Hotel but no-one was injured.

The attack on the private Bekhtar guesthouse in the Shar-i-Naw district was the deadliest on the United Nations in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime.

The Taliban said they carried out the attack and vowed there would be more in the run-up to the second round of presidential elections on November 7.

Eide said he could not yet give details of the nationalities of the UN victims, although the US embassy has confirmed one of the dead was an American.

Eide said: “I strongly condemn the attack this morning. “My profound condolences go to the families and friends of those who have been the victims of this attack. It’s more than that, it’s also a loss to each and every member of the UN family here in Afghanistan.”

Eide said an attack on the UN was also an attack on the Afghan people.

He added: “This attack will not, I repeat not, deter the UN from continuing its work to reconstruct a war-torn country and to build

a better future for the Afghan people. We will

remain committed to Afghanistan.”

However, he said there would be a review of security procedures.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also condemned the attack.

“The victims of these terrorist attacks were devoted to helping the Afghan people build better lives. In targeting them, the Taliban has demonstrated once again that it is truly an enemy of the Afghan people.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the attack was “an inhuman act”.

The US embassy said it was “shocked and saddened”.

“Attacking civilian workers will not lessen our determination to support the Afghan people and their election process,” the embassy said.

UN spokesman Adrian Edwards said: “This has clearly been a very serious incident for us. We’ve not had an incident like this in the past.”

The attack on the guesthouse, which is used by the UN and other international organisations, happened just before 0130 GMT.

Three Taliban militants with suicide vests, grenades and machine guns carried out the assault.

UN spokesman Aleem Siddique said that there was gunfire and an

explosion outside the building as UN employees tried to flee. Streets were cordoned off by police.

The three gunmen were shot dead and the incident ended at about 0830 local time.

It was not immediately known how many people were inside the guesthouse at the time. The building was gutted by fire.