NEW YORK – The United Nations has strongly condemned last night’s deadly attack on the Serena Hotel in Kabul that has reportedly left nine civilians dead and several more wounded – the latest violence to strike Afghanistan ahead of next month’s elections.
Afghan women and children, as well as several foreign nationals, were among those slain in the attack on the hotel, for which the Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility.
Yesterday’s attack combined with a suicide bombing of a market in Faryab province and an attack on a police station in the eastern city of Jalalabad bring to over 50 the number of civilians killed in deadly attacks this week in Afghanistan.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, noted that the attacks took place as the country prepares to mark the spring festival of Nowruz, “a time when Afghans celebrate the values of peace and solidarity among communities.”
Both Mr. Ban and the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) stated that “the deliberate targeting of civilians is a flagrant breach of these values as well as of international humanitarian law.”
The latest violence comes as Afghanistan prepares to hold presidential and provincial council elections on 5 April, and amid an ongoing transition process by which the Government is assuming greater responsibility for its own affairs.
Earlier this week, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš, appealed to Afghans to not allow violence or spoilers to deter the holding of peaceful and credible polls.
“I want to make very clear that even groups such as the Taliban that reject the elections, have obligations to respect a civilian process,” he stated in his briefing to the Security Council, adding that he was gravely disturbed by the Taliban’s recent declaration that it will seek to disrupt the process by force, unleashing a campaign of terror.
The Council, in a statement issued to the press today, condemned the attack on the Serena Hotel and reiterated its serious concern at the threats posed by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and illegal armed groups to the local population, national security forces, and international military and international assistance efforts in Afghanistan, particularly in light of recent terrorist attacks elsewhere in the country.
“The members of the Security Council reiterated that no terrorist act can reverse the path towards Afghan-led peace, democracy and stability in Afghanistan, which is supported by the people and the Government of Afghanistan and the international community,” the Council added.