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UNAMA urges restraint as violence takes heavy toll on civilians

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AT-KABUL:  The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemns today’s (Monday) deadly Kabul suicide attack, which has occurred in the context of a countrywide intensification of violence impacting civilians.

This morning’s attack comes amid commemorations of the 23 July 2016 Dehmazang square attack, which killed and injured hundreds of demonstrators who were exercising their right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, UNAMA said in a statement.

This morning, a suicide attacker detonated a car packed with explosives against a bus carrying civil servants in Kabul’s Ghulayee Dawa Khan area, killing more than 20 passengers and bystanders, and injuring more than 40. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the statement added.

“I am personally outraged by all attacks against civilians,” said Pernille Kardel, the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and acting head of UNAMA. “The detonation of another large suicide device in a busy, civilian-populated area is egregious, cowardly and bereft of humanity.”

UNAMA reminds anti-government elements that employment as a civil servant tasked with providing public services to Afghan citizens on behalf of the government is a civilian function. Attacks deliberately targeting civilians, and the intentional killing of civilians, are war crimes.

“In the context of so much suffering and death, I wish to commend members of the Enlightenment Movement for choosing to address their grievances resulting from last year’s attack through dialogue, not violence,” said Kardel. “I urge all parties to seek similarly peaceful ways to resolve their differences, and welcome the government’s initiative in reaching out to hear the concerns of all Afghans.”

The Mission continues to verify reports about other civilian casualties, including alleged attacks against healthcare facilities and personnel in Ghor, and airstrikes impacting civilians in Nangarhar. The Mission reiterates its condemnation of attacks in civilian-populated areas, and urges all parties to the conflict to cease targeting civilians.