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No UN Staff Hurt in Afghan Suicide Attack

Afghan security forces secure an entrance next to the wreckage of a suicide bomber's vehicle at a UN compound in Herat, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 Oct 2010

United Nations officials say a suicide attack in western Afghanistan damaged an international compound in Herat city, but no U.N. staff members were harmed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack, carried out by four militants dressed as policemen and women. All four are now dead.

Witnesses said the four militants arrived at the U.N. compound in a car packed with explosives. Accounts from Afghan officials and U.N. workers indicated that two of the attackers blew themselves up in the car, and a third man wearing a suicide vest killed himself as he entered the compound. Afghan police shot and killed the fourth attacker.

Reports said two or three Afghan police guarding the U.N. workers in Herat were wounded during the incident, but the U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, confirmed that no one inside the compound was injured.

Herat is one of Afghanistan's largest cities, with a population of about three million, but it has not recently been a major target for Taliban militants. However, Saturday's incident was the worst assault on U.N. workers in Afghanistan in a year. Last October, militants attacked a U.N. guesthouse in Kabul and five foreign U.N. staff were killed.

Despite the presence of 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, violence linked to the Taliban is at its most intense since later 2001, when the extremist Islamic group was ousted from power by Afghan and U.S. troops.

In another incident Saturday, a photographer for The New York Times traveling with a U.S. Army division, was seriously injured in Kandahar province by a land-mine explosion. He was evacuated to Kandahar Air Field for treatment.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.