December 15, 2011


 Suicide attack destroys Afghan veterinary office, employee killed

Taliban level building to strike UN facility

Posted Nov. 30, 2011

Afganistan mapThe Afghanistan Veterinary Association office building in the southern city of Kandahar was destroyed by a suicide attack Oct. 31 that killed several people, including an AVA employee.

The two-story AVA building was adjacent to the office of a United Nations refugee agency. Taliban insurgents detonated a truck bomb inside the AVA building to gain access to the UN facility, igniting an eight-hour gunfight that left four Kandahar policemen and four security guards dead.

The UN Security Council condemned the terrorist attack, at the time, one in a string of lethal Taliban assaults on foreigners in Afghanistan. Two days earlier, a suicide bomber killed more than a dozen NATO troops and civilian employees in Kabul in the deadliest single ground attack on coalition forces in a decade.

In an email to JAVMA News, AVA Executive Director Said Gul Safi identified the dead association employee as Naimatullah. He had worked for the AVA for almost five years and was guarding the building when the Taliban attacked, Dr. Safi wrote.

One of seven regional AVA locations, the Kandahar office employed 13 people and provided a number of services to the mostly agrarian community, including artificial insemination, training for veterinarians and paraveterinarians, and seminars on animal diseases for farmers.

Veterinary drugs and vaccines were stored in a freezer at the building.

For the past two years, the AVA had been renting the building because a facility built for the veterinary association with support from the World Bank was in an area of Kandahar considered too dangerous to work, according to Dr. Safi. The rental property was located near buildings occupied by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other nongovernmental organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization and International Relief and Development.

Although the AVA office building had sustained minor damage from explosions on three previous occasions, this was the first direct attack on the building, Dr. Safi wrote. The bomb blast leveled most of the structure, destroying several computers and generators, along with an SUV and motorcycle. He estimated the losses at more than $100,000.

When asked about the AVA's next steps, Dr. Safi replied, "With no doubt, we will continue."

At approximately 6 a.m. on Oct. 31, Taliban insurgents drove a small Mazda truck filled with explosives into the AVA building and detonated them. At least four gunmen entered the UNHCR office through the breach created by the blast. The insurgents then exchanged gunfire with Kandahar police for several hours until police killed the last of the Taliban at around 2 p.m.

The AVMA and AVA have had close ties since 2004. Dr. Elizabeth A. Sabin, an assistant director of the AVMA Education and Research Division, represented the Association at the first national convention of the AVA in Kabul in 2007. Over the years, Dr. Safi and other Afghan veterinarians have visited AVMA headquarters in Illinois as well as attended veterinary meetings in the United States.

AVMA CEO Ron DeHaven wrote Dr. Safi on behalf of AVMA members to offer condolences for the tragic attack. "With the partnership that has developed between our two associations over the last several years, and especially with the personal friendships that we have created, we are shocked and saddened by your loss," Dr. DeHaven wrote. "It is our hope that you will be able to rebuild and maintain a growing, vibrant Association despite this setback."