KABUL: Attacks on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and aid workers by anti-government forces, chiefly Taliban insurgents, have risen sharply in the first quarter of 2008, according to a report by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO). “NGO security incidents attributed to armed opposition groups have doubled from eight in the first quarter of 2007 to 16 in the same period this year,” said Nic Lee, the ANSO director in Kabul.
Sixteen of the 29 direct attacks on NGOs across the country, from January to the end of March 2008, were initiated and/or executed by Taliban insurgents and other rebel fighters, the report said. The remaining 13 were attributed to criminals who attack NGOs mostly for financial gain. Nine NGO workers lost their lives and nine others were wounded in seven separate armed attacks by anti-government elements, ANSO said.
Furthermore, in seven armed incidents 12 people were kidnapped, leading to two additional fatalities, including a female US citizen who worked for the Asian Rural Life Development Foundation in Kandahar Province. “Our data demonstrates a serious escalation in fatalities with nearly as many killed in the first three months of 2008 as were killed in all of 2007,” Lee told IRIN, adding that cases of abductions had also seen a marked increase.-SANA