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“Anti-government elements” storm UN compound in Afghanistan

The incident came hours after the Taliban advanced deep into Herat city which hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

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On Friday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) announced that its headquarters in the capital of the western Afghan province, Herat, was attacked by “anti-government elements.” According to initial reports, at least one security personnel was killed in the incident.

According to the statements of officials, rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire were used in the attack. The officials also stated that severe clashes of arms between Afghan security forces and the Taliban were continuing in areas near the UNAMA provincial headquarters. Meanwhile, the attack came hours after the Taliban advanced towards the interior of Herat city.

While the perpetrators of the attack were not clear yet, a security official who spoke to Reuters said all diplomatic missions in the region were on high alert for further attacks. The UN issued a statement following the attack, indicating that an extensive investigation had been launched to find out the details about the attack, and that the relevant parties were being contacted.

In the statement, UNAMA indicated that the attack targeted the compound’s entrances, explicitly pointed as a UN facility. There are no UN personnel that received injuries, the statement noted, as well.

Speaking upon the incident, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, said, “This attack against the UN is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms.”

On the other hand, Herat city was reported as the second provincial capital that the Taliban has penetrated during the last 24 hours. A day before, the group also entered the capital of the southern province of Helmand, where armed conflicts are continuing between security forces and the Taliban.

Speaking to Reuters, a government official, who requested to remain anonymous, said, “Since Thursday morning, the Taliban has launched attacks from several directions on Lashkargah city, which is the capital of Helmand, a southern province of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan.”

The Taliban has increased its territorial gains over the last two months while the US and NATO troops are about to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Yet, the group could not capture any provincial capitals so far. While clashes are escalating, civil losses have also increased in recent weeks. According to a report published by the UN this week, as many civilians were killed in May and June as in the previous four months in the country.

Meanwhile, the first group of Afghans, including interpreters and others who worked for US forces in the 20-years long war in Afghanistan, were evacuated. A plane, carrying over 200 Afghans, including 57 children and 15 babies landed in Washington.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the incoming Afghan people through a message posted on his Twitter account, writing: “To the first group of Afghan special immigrant applicants arriving in the US as part of Operation Allies Refuge: welcome to your new home. We are committed to helping those who bravely worked with us to build a better future for Afghanistan.”

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