Afghanistan

Afghanistan: ISAF comes under bomb attack

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KABUL, 10 March (IRIN) - The International Security Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (ISAF) has confirmed that a local interpreter had been killed and a Dutch soldier injured following an explosion on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Friday.
"It was a normal patrol in Bagram District, with several ISAF vehicles, when the explosion happened," a spokesman for the UN mandated multinational peacekeeping force, Lt-Col Thomas Loebbering, told IRIN in Kabul, adding that it had been an improvised explosive device, planted on the edge of the road and detonated remotely when the ISAF vehicle passed.

Loebbering noted that despite expert medical attention, the interpreter had died of his injuries, while the Dutch soldier had sustained light wounds. He said ISAF would actively investigate the premeditated attack on the patrol. "We will actively respond on that," Loebbering said, adding that they would not step back, but would increase the amount of patrols.

Quoting the ISAF force commander, Lt-Gen Norbert Van Heyst, he said, "ISAF remains committed to maintaining a safe and secure environment within Kabul and will not be deterred by the actions of a minority who wish to undermine the current security situation."

While ISAF bases had been targeted by rocket and bomb attacks in the past, Friday's bomb explosion was the first direct attack on one of its patrols since the force's creation at the end of 2001. ISAF generally has enjoyed good relations with local people and has contributed greatly to the capital's security through its work.

The UN-mandated peacekeeping force is a critical component of international efforts to assist the country on its road towards peace and reconstruction. Both the aid community and the government of President Hamid Karzai have long called for ISAF's mandate to be extended beyond the confines of the capital in an effort to improve security throughout the country, seen by many as a major obstacle to rebuilding the nation still reeling from two decades of war.

[ENDS]

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