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Afghanistan - UN attack

Taliban murder six UN foreigners in guesthouse assault

Article published on the 2009-10-28 Latest update 2009-10-28 17:41 TU

An Afghan policeman assists a wounded UN worker in Kabul(Photo: Reuters)

An Afghan policeman assists a wounded UN worker in Kabul
(Photo: Reuters)

Six foreign United Nations staff were killed Wednesday after a Taliban suicide assault on a UN-approved guesthouse in the capital, Kabul. Police said a search of the hostel had turned up a charred, unidentified body. Two security personnel were also killed, bringing the death toll to nine.

Afghan police said three gunmen entered the UN-approved guesthouse in Kabul's Shar-e-Now district around dawn. It is a residential area close to popular shopping streets favoured by Westerners.

The gunmen were shot dead around 8:30am (4:00 universal time), three hours after launching the latest of a series of brazen raids in the heavily guarded city.

Security services closed off roads and surrounded the building, Afghan interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said. A police officer and intelligence officer also died, said an Afghan soldier at the site of the attack.

"We claim responsibility," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told AFP by telephone. "This is the first step, as we have warned that we will disrupt the second round of the elections."

"This attack will not, I repeat, will not deter the UN from continuing its work to construct, reconstruct and to build a better future for the Afghan people," the head of the UN's mission Kai Eide told reporters.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemned the attack, which he said proved the Taliban are "an enemy of the Afghan people".

"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," he said.

"I express my condolences to the families of the victims, and to the United Nations."

Police confirmed a second attack in which militants fired rockets at the luxury Serena Hotel, which is popular with diplomats and foreign businessmen. No casualties were immediately reported.

Tensions rising in Afghanistan ahead of the presidential second-round election on November 7. It came also as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked off a surprise visit to neighbouring Pakistan, seeking to bolster the frontlines of the struggle against militants.

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