- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 16, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan International aid workers are threatening to leave northern Afghanistan after a female worker was gang raped, a clinic was attacked by gunmen and a vehicle carrying food for the hungry was shot up, the United Nations said yesterday.
U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi has complained to Hamid Karzai, the country's newly elected president, and held a meeting yesterday with the three warlords who control the region, U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.
The attacks occurred in the past week, he said.
In a letter to Mr. Karzai, Mr. Brahimi called the lawlessness in northern Afghanistan, a stronghold of U.S. allies, a "serious situation."
"In particular, the U.N. staff are now reporting an alarming level of violence that is affecting both the personal security and confidence of local residents, and the ability of aid workers to assist them," Mr. Brahimi wrote.
At least one American aid organization, whose vehicle was attacked Friday while it was delivering food to a camp for internally displaced Afghans, has already pulled out of the country "and may not proceed further with their program," Mr. Almeida said.
Other groups are considering similar actions, he said.
The attack occurred in Dehdadhi district near Mazar-e-Sharif city in northern Balkh province. The group had also been planning on providing a computer center to Balkh University, but those projects may fold up.
On June 8, a female international aid worker was raped by seven men, who also attacked her vehicle and beat up the Afghan staff member accompanying her, Mr. Almeida said. "I call the attack vicious."
He didn't specify where the assault occurred, saying only that it happened in northern Afghanistan. The United Nations was told about the gang rape only two days ago because the aid organization "wanted to protect her and put her in a safe place," he said.
On Thursday, gunmen from rival factions both part of the interim administration opened fire on a health clinic in Sholgara in northern Balkh province. The nongovernmental organization running the clinic is considering closing down.
All the incidents were reported to local authorities, who have refused to take action.
The three warlords who control that area are Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the deputy defense minister; Atta Mohammed, the chief commander of the Northern Alliance forces, backed by the United States; and Mohammed Mohaqik, a key Shi'ite leader. They are attending the grand tribal council to choose a new government. Mr. Brahimi met with the three yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Afghan national assembly, or loya jirga, failed yesterday to begin formal discussion on naming a legislature or choosing a Cabinet.
Since the election on Thursday of Mr. Karzai as president, deliberations among the 1,650 delegates meeting under a giant white tent in the middle of the Afghan capital, Kabul, have been animated and at times rancorous. There have been charges of intimidation and harassment
Proceedings after the election have been consumed by speeches, with delegates voicing their concerns.


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