UN chief pleads for extra Afghan security

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon pleaded Thursday for the international community to protect UN staff in Afghanistan after Taliban fighters 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 as a "soft target."

UN chief pleads for extra Afghan security
"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," he said after meeting with diplomats from the world's most powerful countries. "We need the support of the member states."
The UN Security Council issued a statement promising "strong support for the secretary general" and saying it "commends the determination of the United Nations not to be deterred by the tragic incident and to carry on its mission in Afghanistan."
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.
The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the vote, which was called in response to massive fraud in the first round.
"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 Afghan 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.

Friday, October 30th 2009

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