Taliban take over UN offices, ban communications

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Taliban take over UN offices, ban communications



Afghanistan's Taliban militia has taken over UN offices in the southern city of Kandahar and placed a communications blackout on other UN operations, a spokeswoman for the world body said on Monday. Spokeswomen Stephanie Bunker also said most UN humanitarian operations in the country had been disrupted or had ceased altogether due to a ban on communications slapped on UN offices last week.

"It is possible that any attempt to communicate with the outside world could put staff at the risk of their lives," she said.

She said the Islamic militia had entered the UN offices in Kandahar, the Taliban's southern stronghold, over the weekend and closed down vital relief work and mine clearing operations amid a deepening humanitarian crisis.

"Local authorities have taken over UN offices in Kandahar as well as some NGO (non-governmental organisations) offices. They have also taken over the offices of two NGOs working under the umbrella of the UN Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan," Bunker said.

She said the move had obvious "profound consequences" for the more than 100,000 people who are believed to have fled Kandahar for the safety of the countryside or the Pakistani border over the past two weeks.

On Friday, the Taliban "entered UN offices in Kabul and locked and sealed all communications equipment", she said.

"Over the weekend similar actions were taken at three other locations around the country," Bunker said.

The Taliban is preparing for war with the United States following the September 11 suicide hijacking in New York and Washington, which has been blamed on the militia's "guest" Osama bin Laden.

Most foreign aid workers pulled out of the deeply impoverished country in the days following the attacks, leaving local Afghan staff to cope with a humanitarian crisis which is now threatening to spin out of control.

"The UN previously maintained 24-hour contact with all offices inside Afghanistan and used an array of means to communicate," Bunker said.

The UN coordinator's office based in Pakistan had warned that relief efforts might have to be stopped in the areas affected by the new restrictions.

It had asked permission to keep one high-frequency radio in each office but so far there had been no reply from the Taliban.

-- PHO (owennos@bigfoot.com), September 24, 2001


bin Laden isn't the end of the story. As long as the Taliban prospers they're going to continue pecking away at our freedoms until we're in a state of siege (if we aren't already)

I'm making a prediction right now. If we go to Afghanistan and start rounding up fanatics, some of our boys are going to get ambushed by fanatics dressed head to toe disguised like the women. Shit you could hide a mini-gun under one of thoe head-to-toe getups. But we won't be able to touch the women (even though we won't be able to tell if they are women) because then the Islam religion will start crying foul. Could be worse than the jungles of Vietnam. Its going to be U G L Y.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley1@netzero.net), September 24, 2001.

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