Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today spoke by telephone to senior officials of the governments of Nepal, Norway, Sweden and Romania to express his deep condolences following the deaths of their citizens in the attack on the United Nations compound in northern Afghanistan yesterday.
Mr. Ban thanked the Prime Minister of Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, and the foreign ministers of the three European countries for their citizens`` sacrifice in the service of the UN and humanity.
He said the thoughts of all at the United Nations were with the families of those killed and wounded in the appalling attack on those seeking to help the Afghan people. "
Earlier the Secretary-General spoke by telephone with the President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai and expressed his sadness and shock to the head of State at the attack on the UN offices in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif that resulted in the death of three UN staff and four Nepalese security guards.
Mr. Ban thanked Mr. Karzai for his expression of condolence and for the support he is extending to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, and to the UN family in Afghanistan to ensure the safety and security of UN staff.
The Secretary-General said he had dispatched his Chef de Cabinet Vijay Nambiar and Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security Gregory Starr to Afghanistan to review the security situation.
Mr. Ban told Mr. Karzai that he would continue to work with the Alliance of Civilizations to promote tolerance for all faiths.
The Secretary-General and the Security Council strongly condemned yesterday``s attack in which a large crowd of demonstrators angry at the burning of a copy of the Koran by a United States group stormed a the UN compound and killed the UN staff and the Nepalese Gurkha soldiers serving as guards at the operations centre.
The attack took place about 4:30 p.m. at an operations centre for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Mazar-i-Sharif.
An unconfirmed number of Afghan demonstrators were killed. Many staff were also wounded, including the head of UNAMA``s office in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters yesterday that the demonstration was one of several held across Afghanistan today in protest at last month``s burning of a Koran by a Christian group based in the state of Florida.
He said many of the demonstrators in Mazar-i-Sharif were armed and, while the security guards tried their best, the crowd was so large that they were soon outnumbered.
Mr. Ban described the attack as outrageous and cowardly " and said it cannot be justified under any circumstances. "
In a statement the Secretary-General said those killed were dedicated to the cause of peace in Afghanistan and to a better life for all Afghans. These brave men and women were working in the best tradition of the United Nations and gave their lives in the service of humanity. "
The Security Council issued a press statement in the wake of the attack, with its 15 members condemning all incitement to and acts of violence " and expressing their deep condolences to the families of the victims.
The Council called on Afghan authorities to take all possible steps " to protect UN personnel and premises, and to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice, according to the statement, read out by Ambassador Nestor Osorio of Colombia, which holds the rotating monthly presidency.
The President of the General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, said he had learned of the attack in Afghanistan and the killing earlier this week of a volunteer working for the UN Operation in CÃ´te d``Ivoire (ONUCI) with shock and deep sadness.
The President of the General Assembly condemns in the strongest terms these attacks, during which staff members and nationals were killed and injured, " said a statement issued by his spokesperson.
Mr. Deiss reaffirmed the support of the General Assembly to UNAMA and the people and Government of Afghanistan, as well to ONUCI and the people and Government of CÃ´te d``Ivoire. He expressed his heartfelt condolences and sent his prayers to the families of the victims.
Mr. McNorton told the UN News Centre that the attack would not deter UNAMA from carrying out its work.
We remain committed to supporting the Afghan people and to ensuring that they are able to obtain a better life. We remain committed to the cause of peace, " he said.
Mr. McNorton said the brutal nature of the attack was nevertheless being felt across the UN community in Afghanistan, where UNAMA and many UN agencies operate.
Wounded members of staff were evacuated from Mazar-i-Sharif, but Mr. Le Roy stressed that the UN would continue to have a presence in the city.