Suicide attackers assault UN office in Afghanistan

A suicide car bomber and three armed militants wearing explosives vests and dressed as women attacked a United Nations compound today in western Afghanistan.

Last Updated: Oct 24, 2010, 00:25 AM IST

Kabul: A suicide car bomber and three armed militants wearing explosives vests and dressed as women attacked a United Nations compound today in western Afghanistan, but Afghan security forces killed the attackers and no UN employees were harmed, officials said.

The Afghan Ministry of Interior said three guards working at the compound were injured.

"The situation is now resolved", said Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. "All UN staff have been accounted for."

The brazen attack began when four militants drove up to the UN compound in a car laden with explosives, said Dilawar Shah Dilawar, deputy police chief of Herat province. From the car, they fired a rocket toward the entrance, he said.

The militants tried unsuccessfully to blow up the gate with the rocket so they could drive the car inside the compound, he said. When that didn`t work, three of the militants got out of the car and the fourth blew up the vehicle, killing himself. The explosion destroyed the gate, allowing the three to get inside.

"The three attackers were wearing police uniforms covered with burqas", Dilawar said, referring to the long, flowing garment that many Afghan women wear in public. "All of them had suicide vests and AK-47s".

Militants sometimes wear burqas or police uniforms as a disguise.

The Interior Ministry denied the attackers were wearing police uniforms.

Guards at the UN compound and Afghan policemen who responded to the site engaged in sporadic gun fights with the three attackers, who were killed by Afghan security forces. Initial reports indicated that NATO forces also responded, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

The attack was similar to one in July in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Taliban suicide attackers used a car to blow a hole in the wall of a compound of a contractor for the US Agency for International Development in an attack that killed a Briton, a German and two Afghans. Five men wearing suicide bomb vests poured into the compound and fought a five-hour gunbattle with Afghan security forces before being killed.

Separately, NATO forces killed two civilians, including a teenage boy, during a fight with insurgents today in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan, according to Mohammad Halim Fidai, the governor of the province. Fidai condemned the killings. The deaths prompted hundreds of residents to stage a demonstration that blocked a highway for nearly an hour.

PTI