UN mission condemns suicide attack in Afghanistan

United Nations, March 19: The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemned a deadly suicide attack that killed 17 and injured four dozens in the country’s northwest city of Maimana Tuesday, a UN spokesperson said.

“Nicholas Haysom, the secretary general’s deputy special representative in Afghanistan and the acting head of the mission, said that the continuing rise in civilian deaths from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is tragic,” Xinhua quoted Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as saying at a daily briefing.

Haysom “reiterated the call for an immediate stop to their indiscriminate use, especially in areas known to be populated by civilians,” Dujarric said.

The UN spokesperson said that in the first two and a half months of 2014, improvised explosive devices have killed 190 civilians in Afghanistan, a 14 percent increase from the same period last year.

In a press statement issued on its website, UNAMA stressed that the indiscriminate use of IEDs may amount to a “war crime”.

“International humanitarian law, which binds all parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan, strictly prohibits the use of weapons and attacks that do not distinguish between civilians and military objectives,” the statement said.

The latest violence came as Afghanistan prepares to hold presidential and provincial council elections due April 5, part of an ongoing transition process for the government to assume greater responsibility for its own affairs.

Since the start of the election campaign in February, at least a dozen election staff have been killed or injured by militants.

The Taliban warned the Afghan people to stay away from polling stations and election offices and ordered its fighters to target candidates, election workers, election activists and security guards.