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Suicide attack on UN begs the question: How safe is Herat, Afghanistan?

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Reza Shirmohammadi/AP

(Read caption) Afghan security forces secure an entrance next to the wreckage of a suicide bomber's vehicle at a UN compound in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday. Afghan security forces killed the attackers and no U.N. employees were harmed, officials said.

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The United Nations has said it will maintain its programs and presence in Herat, Afghanistan following a Saturday attack on its compound in the peaceful area near the Iranian border. The attack further unsettled many international aid organizations that are already considering scaling back their operations when a ban by President Hamid Karzai on the use of private security guards takes effect at the end of the year.

Two Afghan policemen were injured Saturday in what was the most serious attack on a UN facility since the Oct. 2009 attack on a Kabul guesthouse that killed several employees and prompted the mission to evacuate many workers, according to the Washington Post. But the UN says no staff were hurt after four militants launched rocket-propelled grenades, crashed a car bomb into the UN complex’s gate, and attempted to detonate suicide vests hidden under burqas. A smaller weekend staff was in the compound at the time.

Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi, speaking to the Agence France-Press, took credit for for the attack. Earlier this year, AFP reminds us, the Taliban announced that all foreigners, including diplomats and aid workers and the Afghans who work for them, were considered viable targets in their battle against the Western-backed government in Kabul.

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