Chinese Workers Latest Fatalities in Taliban Crusade to Derail Elections in Afghanistan

Yesterday, gunmen killed an Afghan guard and 11 Chinese road workers as they slept in the Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. The Associated Press reports that yesterday’s brutal attack was the deadliest on foreign civilians since the Taliban lost power. Four other Chinese workers who were injured in the attack are listed in stable condition. The workers were contracted to rebuild the highway from Doshi to the Tajikistan border. The UN immediately warned staff to stay off roads and halted voter registration in Kunduz until at least Saturday. Shortly after the attack on the Chinese workers, a bomb hit a vehicle carrying UN counternarcotics officials in the neighboring province of Takhar, but there were no reported injuries.

According to the Agence France-Presse, Afghan police arrested ten people on Wednesday in connection with last week’s murders of five people who worked for Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in the Badghis province. The organization has since withdrawn from Afghanistan.

These murders were the latest in a string of deadly attacks on relief workers, government employees and private contractors in a Taliban-led crusade to derail democratic elections and oust the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, AP reports. Already the elections that were to take place in June have been postponed until September due to the lack of security. Only 2.8 million of the 10.5 million estimated eligible Afghan voters are currently registered, of which approximately one-third are women. Despite the dire security situation, peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan remain a small contingent of some 6,500 soldiers.

AP reports that Badghis and Kunduz, the provinces where the Medecins Sans Frontieres and Chinese workers killings occurred, were considered “relatively peaceful” until now. Relief agencies are concerned that militants are expanding their excursions from the south and east where there has been a campaign of deadly attacks and bombings by the Taliban and other militants since last year.

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Associated Press 6/9/04, 6/10/04, 6/11/04; Agence France-Presse 6/9/04; UN Wire 6/10/04; Feminist Daily News Wire

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