Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Mine clearance continues despite bomb attack

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KABUL, 31 January (IRIN) - UN officials say mine-clearance operations will continue despite a bomb blast at a UN building in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif on 26 January. "We are not suspending our operations and work will continue as normal," Abdul Latif Matin, the operations officer for the UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (MACA), told IRIN in the capital, Kabul, on Friday.
Windows of the MACA building and a nearby residence were shattered. However, there were no injuries as no one was inside the building at the time of the attack.

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul on Thursday, Manoel de Almeida e Silva, spokesman for the UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, said initial reports indicated that someone walking by might have thrown the device onto the roof. He added that an investigation was under way.

The explosion in Mazar-e Sharif came within hours of an armed attack on a UN convoy in the eastern city of Jalalabad, in which two Afghan security men were killed. The motive for the attack on the UN convoy remain unknown. It has resulted in the UN stepping up security and restricting the movement of its vehicles in Nangarhar, a measure which will affect the distribution of much-needed aid in the region.

"UN road missions to Khogiani, Izerak and Sezar districts have been suspended. This has a direct impact on our humanitarian programmes," Manoel de Almeida e Silva said. "Some 1,000 families due to receive aid as part of the winter response will not receive assistance until this road restriction is lifted," he added.

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