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UN Chief Warns Violence Could Hurt Afghan Elections

United Nations, 7 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that violence in Afghanistan could jeopardize crucial mid-year elections.

In a report issued yesterday to the Security Council, Annan said the Afghan peace process had reached a "critical juncture." But he said Afghanistan had undergone "a deterioration in security at precisely the point where the peace process demands the opposite."

The report was released just hours after a bomb ripped through the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing at least 12 people, including several children. In a separate statement, Annan condemned the Kandahar killings as "heinous acts of violence."

A wave of bloodshed in the country has claimed more than 400 lives since August 2003.

The United Nations says there have been more attacks against civilians in the past three months than in the 20 months following the Bonn agreement in December 2001. That pact set out a political process leading to presidential and perhaps legislative elections later in the year.