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UN Chief Says Boosting Security After Afghan Attack

The UN secretary-general speaks to journalists at UN headquarters in New York
UNITED NATIONS -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on the Afghan government and the international community to do more to protect UN staff in Afghanistan following an attack by Taliban militants this week in Kabul that killed five UN staff members and three Afghans.

Ban said additional security units were needed in Afghanistan to protect against what he called a "dramatically escalated" threat to UN staff posed by Taliban militants trying to disrupt Afghanistan's November 7 presidential runoff election.

"The UN is a civilian operation. We are working there to help the Afghanistan people. But our mission is not safe, and [is] vulnerable. We need the full protection of the Afghanistan government and the international community," Ban said.

Ban did not say how many more security officers will be needed, but said it was likely that both UN and private security officers would be sent to protect UN staff in Afghanistan.

The UN chief added that Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan have become the most dangerous place in the world for UN civilian staff, saying that 27 UN civilian personnel have been killed due to violence so far this year -- more than half of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A statement issued by the UN Security Council condemned the October 28 Taliban attack "in the strongest terms" and commended "the determination of the United Nations not to be deterred by the tragic incident and to carry on its mission in Afghanistan."

The statement added that the Afghan elections "should be carried out as scheduled with the continuous support of the United Nations."