An Afghan police guard was killed on Friday when a UN compound came under attack in Herat, officials said, as fighting raged between government forces and the Taliban on the outskirts of the western city.
Violence has surged across the country since early May, when the Taliban launched a sweeping offensive as the US-led foreign forces began a final withdrawal that is now almost complete.
The militants have seized scores of districts across the country, including in Herat Province, where the group has also captured two border crossings adjoining Iran and Turkmenistan.
On Friday, the Taliban clashed with government forces on the outskirts of Herat city, the provincial capital, forcing scores of families to flee, residents said, as the insurgents tightened their noose.
During the fighting, the UN’s main compound in Herat came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire, a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.
“This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan. “The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account.”
UNAMA said the attack was carried out by “anti-government elements.”
However, it said that the area where the compound is located was the scene of heavy fighting between the Taliban and government forces.
The US said it “strongly condemns” the attack in a statement from US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
“The United Nations in Afghanistan is a civilian entity focused on supporting peace efforts, promoting the rights of all Afghans and providing humanitarian and development assistance,” Sullivan said in the statement, urging the Afghan government and Taliban to resume peace talks.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack and repeated the UN’s “commitment to support the government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve peace and stability.”
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