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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says Wednesday's suicide attack on a U.N. guest house in Kabul that killed nine people, including six U.N. staffers, will not deter the organization from its mission in Afghanistan. From U.N. headquarters in New York, Margaret Besheer reports Mr. Ban said the United Nations would continue to help the country prepare for the second round of its presidential election scheduled for next month.
Mr. Ban told reporters today is a very "sad" and "difficult" day for the United Nations.
"The world has lost women and men committed to the values of peace, dignity and respect for all," said Ban Ki-moon. "I condemn this shocking and shameless act and the terrorists who committed this crime."
He said those who sacrificed their lives did so to help the Afghan people achieve a brighter future.
"Those who gave their lives today came to Afghanistan, armed not with guns or bullets," he said. "They came with a more powerful weapon - hope. Hope for a better day for Afghanistan and a commitment to help its people build a better world and a better future. We will not be deterred from this noble mission. We stand by the people of Afghanistan today, and we will do so tomorrow."
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Mr. Ban said the United Nations would ask the Afghan government to provide it with strengthened security. He said the world body would also conduct a routine review of its own security procedures and would take all necessary measures to protect its staff.
The United Nations has come under increasing attack from terrorist groups in South Asia. Earlier this month, five World Food Program employees were killed in a suicide blast in neighboring Pakistan, and last week a Pakistani officer assigned to a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan was gunned down while on home leave in Islamabad.
The secretary-general said the Kabul attack would not stop the United Nations from assisting in preparations for the November 7 presidential election run-off between Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah.
The second round was required after a U.N.-backed investigation into the vote found widespread fraud and a third of Mr. Karzai's ballots were declared invalid, reversing his outright victory.