Attack on UN guesthouse by Taliban in Afghanistan kills nine

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Militants in Afghanistan have killed at least six foreign United Nations workers; three Afghans, and a US citizen, during an attack on an international guest-house in the capital Kabul on Wednesday.

Local officials said three gunmen wearing suicide vests, disguised as police, stormed the compound around dawn that morning. They battled security forces for two hours before they either detonated their explosives or were shot dead. At least two Afghan security guards and a civilian died in the assault.

A Taliban spokesman later took credit for the attack, calling it a "first step" to disrupt the planned November 7 presidential run-off election. The group called for a boycott of the polls, and threatened violence against anyone who would vote.

Militants also fired rockets at a luxury hotel and the presidential palace in the capital on Wednesday, but without causing casualties.

Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN, confirmed that six staff for the UN were among the dead. "This has clearly been a very serious incident for us. We've not had an incident like this in the past," he said.

The UN chief in Afghanistan condemned the attack and said it would not deter the organization from continuing its work. "This attack will not, I repeat, will not deter the UN from continuing its work to [...] build a better future for the Afghan people," said Kai Eide.

The US embassy released a statement saying that attacking civilian workers will not lessen US support for the Afghan people and their election process.

The assault came a day after a series of bomb blasts in southern Afghanistan killed eight Americans, making October the deadliest month for US troops in the ongoing eight year war.