UN committee reviewing names on sanctions list of those linked to Taliban, terrorist networks

Saturday, June 12, 2010

UN reviewing Taliban, al-Qaida blacklist

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.N. committee that monitors sanctions against al-Qaida and the Taliban is reviewing 137 names on the travel and financial “blacklist” as part of a campaign to reach out to insurgents willing to reconcile with the government, the top U.N. representative said Saturday.

Delegates to a national conference, or peace jirga, held this month in Kabul recommended that militants willing to end the insurgency be removed from the list — a long-standing demand of top Taliban leaders.

U.N. chief Staffan de Mistura told reporters the committee will visit Kabul to review the list for the U.N. Security Council, which will make the final decision on removing any names. The U.S., Britain and France, who maintain troops here, wield veto power on the council and would have to agree to changes in the list.

De Mistura said the U.N. wanted to encourage efforts to reconcile with Taliban members and the decision to review the list “is a sign of pro-activity which we welcome.”

A statement issued last week by the peace jirga, which brought together 1,600 tribal, community and religious leaders, called on the government and its international partners to “take serious action in getting the names of those in opposition removed” from the blacklist, which freezes assets and limits travel of key Taliban and al-Qaida figures.

Peace overtures to the insurgents have come during a time when the U.S. and its partners are ramping up military operations, especially in the Taliban’s southern heartland. The Taliban also announced their own offensive last month aimed at forcing foreign troops from the country.

That has led to a sharp rise in bloodshed this month. In some of the latest fighting, five Afghan police and two NATO service members died Saturday in separate roadside bomb blasts.

The policemen were riding in a vehicle that struck a bomb in the Khakrez district of Kandahar province, provincial Police Chief Sher Mohammed Zazai said. International forces are ramping up security to bolster the government and curb criminal and insurgent activity in Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.

On Wednesday, 56 people were killed and 24 others were wounded when a 13-year-old boy detonated his vest of explosives at a wedding celebration in a village near Kandahar, Zazai said.

NATO said an American service member died in a roadside bomb attack in northern Afghanistan, and another coalition soldier was killed in an explosion in the east. Poland’s Defense Ministry said the victim was a Polish soldier. The ministry said eight other Polish soldiers were wounded in the incident about eight miles (12 kilometers) from their base in Ghazni, the provincial capital of Ghazni province.

So far this month, 38 coalition troops have been killed in Afghanistan, including 27 Americans.

On Friday, militants killed four Afghan construction workers as they returned home from work. The Ministry of Interior said the workers were shot in Mata Khan district of Paktika province. Their bodies were recovered Friday by policemen patrolling the area.

Separately, more than three dozen schoolgirls were treated after becoming ill from suspected poisoning at their high school in Ghazni province, also in eastern Afghanistan.

“More then 40 girls were poisoned inside their school. They are hospitalized, but none of them have life-threatening conditions,” said Mohammad Ismail Ibrahamzia, director of the hospital in Ghazni city.

He said the girls were vomiting and could not stand on their feet when they arrived at the hospital, but they were in stable condition after treatment.

There have been similar cases of illnesses at schools around Afghanistan. Some suspect militants are spraying schools with poison gas because they oppose education for girls.

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