UN development worker killed in Afghan blast

An American working for the United Nations has been killed when his car was attacked with a grenade in the Afghan capital.

The United Nations was placed in lockdown after the attack, which also wounded at least five others, including two other UN workers travelling alongside the victim.

The dead man working with the UN’s development programme died when a specialist armour-piercing grenade or bomb was placed on, or thrown at, the top of his vehicle and split the roof open, sources said.

White armoured UN vehicles emblazoned with the body’s name are a common site in the Afghan capital, where the organisation maintains a heavy presence despite a parlous security situation.

The specialised type of bomb and the deliberate targeting of the UN were “foreboding”, one source said and the UN had confined staff to their compounds.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a growing trend of assaults on aid and humanitarian workers in Afghanistan. Aid agencies and medical groups have reported increasing cases of workers being killed, kidnapped, robbed and harassed as humanitarians have tried to negotiate a worsening conflict. The Taliban in May targeted Counterpart International, a US-funded non-profit group working with marginalised people. Nine people were killed in that attack. The insurgents also earlier this year said they could no longer guarantee Red Cross workers safe passage after relations worsened with the humanitarian body. The organisation was forced to dramatically scale back its programmes for five months until the Taliban allowed workers to resume.

A statement from the UN secretary general said the organisation “strongly condemns the attack on a United Nations vehicle in Kabul today, which killed a United Nations colleague and injured two others”.

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state said America: “unequivocally condemns today’s terrorist attack on a vehicle carrying UN personnel in Kabul”.

The UN has suffered several deadly attacks in the past. In 2009, the Bakhtar guesthouse in Kabul was stormed by Taliban gunmen, who killed eight people including five UN staff.

In 2011, seven foreign UN workers — including four Nepalis, a Swede, a Norwegian and a Romanian — were killed in an attack on a UN compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.