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Taliban kill 8 in attack on convoy; UN envoy leaves Afghanistan after 2 years

Taliban kill 8 in attack on convoy; UN envoy leaves Afghanistan after 2 years

Taliban militants fired rocket-propelled grenades from their vehicles at a convoy of private security guards on Afghanistan's main highway, killing six guards and two police officers, a police chief said Sunday.
The attack in a dangerous section of Wardak province occurred Saturday afternoon as the security contractors were guarding equipment being driven from Ghazni city to the capital Kabul, said Wardak police chief Gen. Zafaruddin, who goes by one name.
Taliban militants opened fire on the convoy near Maydon Shahr, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Kabul, and six guards and two policemen were killed, he said.
This year has been Afghanistan's most violent since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion drove the Taliban from power. More than 6,300 people, mostly militants, have been killed in insurgency-related violence, according to an Associated Press count.
Meanwhile, the U.N.'s top representative here, Tom Koenigs, said he was "particularly concerned" that an Afghan consultant who worked for the U.N. remains jailed after he accompanied officials from the U.N. and European Union, allegedly to a meeting with Taliban commanders in Helmand province.
The government asked the two officials to leave the country last week, and detained the Afghan consultant for attending the alleged meeting.
"We've made it clear to the Afghan government that we want to see him released as soon as possible, because even the government has publicly stated that no U.N. staff member was involved in any secret talks," said Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the U.N. mission.
Koenigs said "underlying assumptions" from some elements within the Afghan government were misunderstandings. That was an apparent reference to allegations that the two officials met with and may have handed money over to Taliban leaders.
He said the U.N. was not involved in any intelligence operations or paying money to any insurgents.
Koenigs, the head of the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan for the last two years, left his post on Sunday. Bo Asplund, a Swedish national, is now the officer in charge until a permanent head is named.
Paddy Ashdown, a former leader of Britain's opposition Liberal Democrats who served previously as Bosnia-Herzegovina's international administrator, is a leading candidate to replace Koenigs.
After two years as special representative, Koenigs said he leaves the country with both hope and concern.
"Afghanistan is moving from being a country decimated by decades of conflict to a progressive Islamic democracy, striving to improve the lives of its people," he said. "However, I share the same concern as the Afghan people for the security situation, particularly in the south of the country."
Koenigs said UNAMA will continue to back the rights of victims of Afghanistan's nearly three decades of conflict, saying reparations are needed for past abuses. He said acknowledging past abuses is not a barrier to reconciliation, but rather is a "prerequisite for future peace and stability in Afghanistan."


Updated : 2021-08-02 09:36 GMT+08:00