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UN Suspends Mine-Clearing in Afghanistan,

Deutsche Presse-Agentur
August 8, 2000

Some 5,000 mine-clearing workers in Afghanistan will suspend their operations on Thursday in mourning of their seven colleagues murdered in an ambush over the weekend, the United Nations in Islamabad on Tuesday. Senior officials of the U.N. Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA), based in Islamabad, attended the funeral of the seven held in Jalalabad city in eastern Afghanistan.

A special U.N. flight had brought the bodies from the western city of Herat, where the workers were returning from Badghis province when they were waylaid and killed by a gang. The U.N. has suspended its operations in Badghis and is conducting an inquiry into the incident.

Erick de Mul, the UNOCHA chief, condemned the murders, saying the workers were "saving lives by teaching people how to avoid the dangers of landmines, bombs shells, mortars and other unexploded ordnance" which are strewn all over war-ravaged Afghanistan. Dan Kelly, manager of UNOCHA's Mine Action Programme, said: "At Thursday's (memorial) ceremony, we will mourn for them. "Every day, as we continue our work of mine awareness, de-mining, and explosive ordnance disposal, we will honour their memory."

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