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KABUL — The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday that deteriorating security in Afghanistan has impeded access to medical care, driving it to critically low levels in some areas of the country after a decade of war.

“Despite improvements in the quality of life for certain sectors of the population over the past decade, the security situation in many areas of the country remains alarming,” said Jacques de Maio, the Red Cross’ head of operations for South Asia.

“Access to medical care is at a critically low point in conflict-affected areas, with local clinics closed in some places because of fighting, attacks on premises, or intimidation of staff,” he said.

A recent U.N. report said that the average number of clashes and other attacks each month was running nearly 40 percent higher than the same time last year.

In the midyear report, the U.N. said 1,462 Afghan civilians lost their lives in crossfire between Taliban insurgents and Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces. During the first half of last year, 1,271 Afghan civilians were killed, mostly by roadside bombs.


Prime minister promises to find criminals, toughen laws

NASSAU — The Bahamian prime minister announced Monday that his government will root out criminals, toughen laws, improve the islands’ courts, round up unlicensed guns and fund programs aimed at intervening in the lives of at-risk youth.

Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham made the comments in a nationally televised address in the vast archipelago, which has seen a record number of killings this year.

Police say 104 people have been killed so far in 2011. That tops the previous full-year record of 94 set last year.

Mr. Ingraham said the Bahamas is plagued with an “intolerable level of crime, especially violent crime.”

While much of the Bahamas, including tourist resorts, is peaceful, tensions run deep in some sections of Grand Bahama and populous New Providence Island, which is home to more than 200,000 people and some of the most famous resorts in the Caribbean nation off Florida’s east coast.

Assistant Police Commissioner Hulan Hanna recently told reporters that he is alarmed by the escalating murder rate, but law enforcers are committed to fighting crime on the islands of roughly 340,000 people.


First strategic pact sealed with Afghanistan

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