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Insecurity shuts UN mission in Afghanistan’s Kandahar

Posted by The Agonist on April 27th, 2010

From our partners at The Agonist

Ismail Sameem | Kandahar | Apr 27

Reuters – The United Nations has shut its mission in Kandahar and evacuated many foreign staff from the southern Afghan city, it said on Tuesday, a sign of worsening security ahead of a major U.S. offensive.

The U.N. pullout further alarmed residents as thousands of U.S. troops plan to launch the biggest operation of the nearly nine-year-old war in coming weeks.

U.N. spokeswoman Susan Manuel said all Afghan staff in Kandahar had been told to stay home, and some foreign staff had been moved to the capital Kabul for their safety a day earlier.

She would not say how many international staff had stayed behind, or whether a specific threat was behind the decision.

“The security situation has gotten to the point where we needed to withdraw them yesterday,” she said. “We hope people can go back and keep doing what they have been doing. We see it as a very temporary measure.”

Hours after the U.N. announcement, suspected Taliban infiltrators blew up tankers at fuel depot outside the city, near the air field that serves as the biggest NATO base in the province. Sher Mohammad Zazai, a senior Afghan army commander in the south, said 10 guards at the depot were wounded in the attack.

NATO spokesman Major Marcin Walczak said the blast was a few thousand metres (yards) from the base. No NATO troops were hurt.

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