The outgoing head of the International Red Cross delegation in Afghanistan says civilians are in greater danger with less hope for peace than when he arrived on his job seven years ago.
Reto Stocker says he's "filled with concern" as he leaves the job he's had since 2005 because suffering and hardship have increased among ordinary Afghans while their "hope for the future has been steadily declining."
Stocker said in a statement Monday that the proliferation of local armed groups has left civilians "caught between not just one but multiple front lines."
But he says the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross has made some progress by persuading warring parties to hear some its concerns about the war that began when the U.S. invaded on Oct. 7, 2001.
Stocker's generally bleak assessment came the same day as a bomb hidden in a parked minibus exploded outside a government building in southern Afghanistan, killing two Afghan intelligence officers.
The bomb targeted a field office of the Afghan intelligence agency, known as the National Directorate of Security, in the city of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, said Ahmed Zarak, a spokesman for the provincial government. The two officers who were killed were guarding the compound, which the NDS uses as a base for operations inside Laskgar Gah, the provincial capital, he said.
At least 15 people were wounded in the blast, most of them civilians who lived in a house next door, according to Zarak.