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Afghan driver, doctor in UNICEF car killed in rocket attack

AFGHANISTAN MAY 13 (AFP) An Afghan driver and a doctor were killed when their UNICEF car came under rocket fire in Afghanistan, police said yesterday, in the latest attack on humanitarian workers here.

The UN children's agency confirmed the attack but not the fatalities, saying only that it "feared the worst" for a UN driver and an Afghan aid worker after the attack Friday in western Herat province. It said a UNICEF project manager was also seriously injured in the attack.

"We assume it was a rocket that was fired at a passing UNICEF vehicle which was accompanied by a local authority armed escort," UNICEF spokesman Edward Carwardine told AFP.

There were three men in the vehicle: a UNICEF driver and project manager and an Afghan national from a medical non-government organisation, which he did not identify.

"The UNICEF staff member was very severely injured and rushed to a Herat hospital for intensive treatment. He is believed to be stable.

"Police did inform us last night that two bodies were found at the scene. They have not been identified but we fear the worst," Carwardine said.

Chief of intelligence in Herat, Mohammad Mussa Rasuli, said the driver and a doctor were dead found at the scene of the attack. Two rockets were fired at the vehicle, he said.

The car was returning from a routine monitoring mission in the neighbouring province of Badghis when it came under attack about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Herat city, Carwardine said.

"To my knowledge, after four years of being here, this is the first incident of this nature that UNICEF has suffered," he said. In April unidentified attackers stormed a health clinic in Badghis, gunning down four medical workers and a driver. The clinic was funded by a range of foreign non-government organisations (NGOs).

The governor blamed the attack on "enemies of the government and peace", a term often used to refer to insurgents loyal to the Taliban regime that was ousted in a US-led offensive in late 2001.

Taliban rebels launch almost daily attacks on Afghan and foreign forces, reconstruction projects, NGOs and government officials but most of the attacks are in the south and southeast of the country.

Three European and two Afghan aid workers working with international aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) were killed in an attack in Badghis in June 2004.

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