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Attempt on life of Afghan President sparks outrage from top UN envoy

11 June 2007 The senior United Nations envoy in Afghanistan has condemned yesterday’s assassination attempt against President Hamid Karzai, calling the incident an “outrage.”

“Those who are responsible clearly do not respect the views of the millions of Afghans who elected President Karzai and who work patiently day-by-day for the rebuilding of this country and its values – values of honour, peace, and mutual respect,” Tom Koenigs, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said at a press conference in Kabul.

According to media reports, President Karzai – who has survived two assassination attempts in recent years – escaped unhurt after the Taliban fired rockets at a meeting he was addressing at a school in the province of Ghazni.

Mr. Koenigs also expressed sadness at the recent murders of female journalists Zakia Zaki and Shokiba Sanga Amaaj, saying, “Whatever the motives of these murders, these were two prominent and respected women and their deaths are a great loss to Afghanistan.”

Referring to reported threats against another female journalist, Mr. Koenigs said such attacks “must stop,” and that women must be protected and their roles in society respected.

The murders of the two female journalists also drew condemnation from the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), who said the crimes were all the more shocking because “they not only undermine the basic human right of freedom of expression, but also the right of women to exercise a profession that is vital for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.”

Amid ongoing violence in the war-torn country, four employees of the Afghan Ministry of Health were released last week by their abductors in the south of the country. Mr. Koenigs voiced concern at rumours of the murder of a fifth Ministry employee, who has not been released.

“Deliberately harming civilians, including Government employees, NGO workers, and UN contractors or staff, is a clear violation of international humanitarian law, as well as a crime under national laws,” Mr. Koenigs stated. “Those who engage in such acts will be held to account.”



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