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UN to Appoint Panel to Investigate Algeria Bombing

The United Nations has announced that an independent panel will investigate last month's double bombing in Algeria that killed 17 U.N. staffers. From U.N. headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to appoint a panel of experts from outside the United Nations, after receiving a preliminary report last week from Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security David Veness.

Veness was appointed to look into the December 11 suicide bombings in the Algerian capital. The two attacks targeted a building housing U.N. offices and the Algerian constitutional court. Thirty seven people were killed, 17 of them U.N. personnel. Al-Qaida's North African wing has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

The Secretary-General's spokeswoman, Michele Montas, told reporters the panel would also address the wider issue of protecting U.N. staff around the world.

"The Secretary-General has now decided to appoint an independent panel to establish all the facts concerning the Algiers attack and also to address strategic issues vital to the delivery and enhancement of staff security for the United Nations in its operations around the world," said Montas.

She did not provide details on when the panel would be named or how long their investigation might take. She said the United Nations has to find out where the security failure occurred.

The Secretary-General has said that U.N. headquarters had no previous knowledge of warnings or threats against the Algerian mission. But the widow of a U.N. security officer who died in the attacks said her husband had been concerned about the security situation and had unsuccessfully sought to have concrete barriers erected around the U.N. building's perimeter.