AFGHANISTAN

UN chief pleads for more security after Kabul blasts

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has urged international forces to protect UN staff in Afghanistan a day after Taliban militants killed five in a raid on a Kabul guesthouse.

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AFP - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon pleaded Thursday for the international community to protect UN staff in Afghanistan after Taliban militants killed five and wounded nine.

Addressing a crisis meeting of the UN Security Council a week before Afghanistan's presidential election, the secretary general said UN staff faced a "dramatically escalated" threat and were seen by the Taliban as a "soft target."

"Increasingly, the UN is being targeted, in this case precisely because of our support for the Afghan elections," Ban said.

"We cannot do it alone," Ban said after meeting with diplomats from the world's most powerful countries. "We need the support of the member states."

Ban gave few details of what could be done to secure the unarmed UN staff, who are playing a crucial role in the holding of Afghanistan's run-off election scheduled for November 7.

"We are first of all trying to consolidate our staff who are scattered around in Kabul," he said.

Extra measures would be most needed "outside Kabul where UN security is clearly insufficient."

He said more forces were needed, possibly including private security firms, and he praised the "heroism" of Afghan guards who on Wednesday attempted to hold off the Taliban assailants at a UN residence in Kabul.

Ban said he had spoken with Afghanistan's controversial president, Hamid Karzai, and "urged him again that he should take immediate action to strengthen security measures for the premises."

Ban also said he was "very much encouraged" by the Security Council's reaction to his plea.

 

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