Amanpour: Taliban targets U.N. workers
(CNN) -- There are reports from Afghanistan that workers for the United Nations' mine-action program have been targeted and assaulted by representatives of the Taliban in various Afghan cities.
Christiane Amanpour, stationed in Islamabad, has been following the story.
AMANPOUR: This clearly is a very worrying development. In view of the Taliban statements where they were complaining about the United States mistreating Afghan civilians, now we're hearing through the United Nations that Afghan civilians working for the benefit of all Afghans in their de-mining program – local U.N. staff working for non-government organizations over there – are being targeted and beaten up at several cities around Afghanistan.
This is what Stephanie Bunker, the U.N. spokeswoman for Afghanistan, said about it.
"The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with the United Nations' mine-action program are increasingly being targeted by Taliban authorities. Staff have been beaten in Kabul, in Kandahar and in Jalalabad. A significant number, not yet specified, of vehicles have been taken by the Taliban in Kandahar. This is in addition to yesterday's report about the taking over of three ambulances and one pickup (truck) in Kandahar belonging to mine-action NGOs, by the Taliban."
AMANPOUR: Let's put this in context about those mine workers. I followed their operations in Afghanistan, and this is a vital service to the security and safety of Afghan people. Afghanistan has one of the highest concentrations of land mines sown over the last two decades of war. And particularly around cities, they have so many people who have lost limbs because of these mines. So these people are performing a very vital task. And these are local Afghan civilians who are working in these delicate and difficult operations that the U.N. says are now being beaten up by the Taliban in various cities.
One more development on the Pakistani side: We are now getting more confirmation from military and intelligence sources that over the last couple of days there have been border clashes between Taliban militias and Pakistani border militia guards. Apparently, they say the Taliban tried to infiltrate over here, tried to stir up some trouble along the border areas in Pakistan, and they were eventually forced back, but not before four Pakistanis were wounded. Also, they have tried to fly, since these U.S. air strikes, several of their helicopter gunships over here to safety and they were turned back, according to Pakistani officials.
CNN: Also Christiane, I was reading a statement to Afghan refugees (from the Pakistani government), warning them that they shouldn't be involved in politics.
AMANPOUR: That's right, and that's a direct reference to the huge number of Afghani refugees who have been taking part in some of these demonstrations we've seen, the ones particularly that are close to the Afghan border. The minister of foreign affairs' spokesman basically said that if that’s what they were going to do here, they were going to be repatriated.
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