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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 08:58 GMT
UN scales back Afghan operations
Bettina Goislard [centre] with local Afghan men
Ms Goislard (centre) is said to have been popular amongst the locals
The United Nations has scaled back its work in south-eastern Afghanistan following the killing of an aid worker.

French UN worker Bettina Goislard was shot dead on Sunday by unidentified gunmen in the eastern town of Ghazni.

A UN spokeswoman said the move was temporary pending a security review and work in northern areas would continue.

There has been concern over the rise in attacks on UN workers. Last week a UN office was damaged by a car bomb and a UN vehicle escaped a roadside blast.

Skeleton staff

All UN operations in the city of Ghazni have been suspended.

In the cities of Kandahar, Jalalabad and Gardez, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) now has only a skeleton staff working. Most employees have been told to remain in their residential compounds or at home.

A Unama spokesman in the Afghan capital, Kabul, said that, contrary to earlier reports from the UN in New York, the organisation had not suspended all of its operations in the south-east of the country.

However, he confirmed that road missions in the south and south-east of Afghanistan have been stopped until further notice.

The UN's refugee agency has suspended all field operations with staff working only from their offices.


UN officials say there seems to be a strategy of militants - including remnants of the former Taleban regime - to target aid workers in the country.

The evidence suggests that there obviously is some sort of campaign to target international workers
UN spokesman David Singh
UN spokesman David Singh in Kabul said the agency had sent a team to Ghazni to investigate Goislard's killing on Sunday.

President Hamid Karzai said the killing - the first of a UN worker in Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taleban two years ago - was "an act of enmity by terrorists against the Afghan people".

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the shooting "outrageous and contemptible".

At least 12 aid workers - including a Salvadoran national working for the Red Cross, have been killed in the south and south-east of Afghanistan since March.

Assailants captured

Goislard, a 29-year-old French national, had previously worked for the UNHCR in Rwanda and Guinea.

Her motorcycle-borne assailants are in police custody after angry locals overwhelmed them near the scene of the point-blank shooting, a spokesman for the Afghan president told the BBC.

Correspondents say remnants and new recruits of the Taleban are trying to force foreign aid agencies out of eastern Afghanistan to secure the region for opium cultivation and hardline Islamic rule.

Last Tuesday, a car bomb exploded outside a United Nations office in Kandahar.

No one was killed or injured in that blast, which damaged windows and barriers around the building.

On Sunday, three UN employees in Paktia Province also narrowly escaped injury after a remote-controlled bomb blew up near a vehicle they were travelling in.

Afghanistan's fearful aid community
17 Nov 03  |  South Asia
Car bomb targets UN Afghan office
11 Nov 03  |  South Asia
Security 'key to Afghan recovery'
06 Nov 03  |  South Asia
Country profile: Afghanistan
08 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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