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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 August 2005, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
UN fear at rise in Afghan attacks
By Susannah Price
BBC correspondent at the United Nations

Kabul residents walk past election campaign posters
Election campaigning is in full swing in Afghanistan
The UN Security Council says it is gravely concerned about increased attacks by Taleban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan.

The UN's special representative on Afghanistan told the council extremists were targeting pro-government and international forces there.

His statement comes ahead of Afghan elections due later this month.

The UN is helping to organise parliamentary and provincial council elections for 18 September.

Main priority

The Security Council was told that bringing extremist violence under control was top of the agenda for the government in Afghanistan and ordinary Afghans alike.

Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan will consult with Kabul after the elections

The secretary general's special representative, Jean Arnault, said extremist groups had stepped up their violence in recent months using ambushes and explosive devices to deadly effect.

Mr Arnault said it appeared the extremists were targeting pro-government and international forces rather than election candidates and electoral workers, but that it was too soon to rule out attempts to cause major disruptions to the elections.

Thousands of US and Nato troops will be on hand during the elections although security at polling stations will be in the hands of the Afghan police and army.

Some 2,800 candidates are standing for election to the lower house of the national assembly and there are also elections for councils.

The US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, put out a written statement welcoming the coming poll.

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, told the Security Council the European Union would continue to support the Afghan government and saw the elections as a further step towards bringing democracy to Afghanistan.

Secretary General Kofi Annan has said that once the elections are over he will consult the Afghan government and the international community on the UN's future role in the country.

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