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Red Cross temporarily suspends operations in Afghanistan

May 31, 2013|By Hashmat Baktash and Mark Magnier

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday that it was temporarily suspending operations in Afghanistan following an attack this week in the eastern city of Jalalabad in which a Red Cross security guard was killed and a staff member wounded.

“Because of the incident in Jalalabad we suspended all our activities in Jalalabad and our offices are closed until further notice,” Robin Waudo, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Afghanistan said in a telephone interview.

“In the past two days, we are not moving or carrying out activities in any part of the country.”

Adding an element of mystery to the case, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said in a statement that the group was not involved in Wednesday’s strike.

The Taliban, in a rare public denial, said it does not support strikes on an “independent” aid agency.

The denial could mean that the Red Cross was attacked by mistake, or that the Taliban wanted to distance itself from an attack its members committed, analysts said.

Waudo said the Red Cross would resume limited operations in locations other than Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, on Saturday, depending on the results of a security assessment. Among the questions the group is trying to answer, he said, include who was responsible for thei attack, what their motive was and how it could affect future operations.  

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