- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2003

From combined dispatches

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least one person was wounded yesterday when explosives hidden in a vehicle detonated outside a United Nations office in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, U.N. officials and local witnesses said.

Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan, said a student had been hurt in the blast.

“I hope that he will recover,” he said at a ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul, where he called for additional security from Afghan authorities.

“I plead to you and to the government of Afghanistan, and also to the people of Afghanistan, to provide more security for the United Nations, so that it continues to provide the services it can provide to the people of Afghanistan,” he said.

Mr. Brahimi addressed his remarks to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who also condemned the bombing.

“All U.N. international staff [in Kandahar] are now in their guest houses, and local staff have also been sent home,” said U.N. spokesman David Singh. “They will remain there until further notification.”

He said windows had been blown in by the force of the explosion, and the doors of U.N. buildings were damaged.

Kandahar is the former stronghold of the Taliban militia ousted from power two years ago.

Remnants of the hard-line Islamic regime have been blamed for a string of bloody attacks, mainly in the south and east of the country, since early August.

Meanwhile, a key U.N. Security Council diplomat warned that terrorism, fighting among warlords and the opium trade could undermine the entire Afghanistan peace process ahead of next year’s elections.

“Major challenges lie ahead and much remains to be done if the peace process is to become irreversible and security in Afghanistan realized,” said German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger on his return from a high-level Security Council mission to Afghanistan.

Mr. Pleuger, addressing the council after the Kandahar car-bomb explosion, told reporters that blaming the violence on remnants of the ousted Taliban and the al Queda network did “not cover the whole problem.”

He said most of the incidents were in areas where the Pashtun ethnic group lives, across the porous Pakistan border. The Pashtuns, the largest in the country, did not feel included in economic or political decisions.

Also yesterday, American and Afghan ground forces fought two groups of insurgents, killing one person, in the first clashes of an antiterrorism operation in the mountains of Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.


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