The doctors killed Sunday were en route to a vaccination drive in the Spin Buldak district near Pakistan when their convoy, clearly marked with U.N. insignia, was hit. Polio is endemic along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier.
Kai Eide, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and the head of UNAMA, and Peter Graaff, the WHO representative to the country, in a joint statement decried the bombing.
"This attack was on innocent civilians working only for the people of Afghanistan, and is beyond comprehension," they said.
Police said the driver of the doctor's vehicle was killed and another 16 people were wounded in the attack. The bombing occurred on a road in the town of Spin Boldak.
WHO says the campaign to eradicate polio in Afghanistan will continue despite the attack.
Polio has been eradicated from most of the world while four countries - Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria - have still been reporting polio cases.
Providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan is an endeavor increasingly fraught with peril. At least two dozen foreign and Afghan aid workers have been killed this year, exceeding last year's total, and a group that tracks violence against humanitarian organizations says the number of such attacks has increased by 50%.
U.N. Human Rights Spokesman Rupert Colville says the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan recorded a total of 1,445 civilian casualties in the first eight months of 2008. This is a 39 percent increase over last year.
"August was a particularly bad month. Out of [with] 330 civilians killed. That is the highest number of civilian deaths to occur in a single month since the end of major hostilities and the ousting of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001," said Colville. "The Taliban are believed to be responsible for exactly 800 killings or 55 percent of the total number [referring to total number of deaths in the first 8 months of 2008: 1,445]. That is almost double the 462 deaths last year in the same period."
Colville says the Taliban also carried out more than 140 summary executions.
For good measure, suspected Taliban militants "punished" a schoolteacher the other day for working for the government by dragging him out of a mosque and cutting off his ears in Afghanistan.
Zabul provincial education chief Mohammad Nabi Khushal said the armed men barged into the mosque while worshippers were at a late night prayer, and took another dozen people and beat them up on similar chargers.
"They took him out of the mosque and cut off his ears. They said, 'Anyone working for the government will be punished like this'," he said.
So seven years after the overthrow of the Taliban many Afghans say life is no better and some say its worse.
A recent spate of civilian deaths caused by U.S.-led air strikes has added salt to their wounds.
"After the 9/11 attacks, when the U.S. and her allies overthrew the Taliban government, the U.S. promised the Afghan nation stability, safety and jobs," Haji Allah Dad, a 60-year-old trader in the southern town of Spin Boldak, told Reuters.
"But they have done nothing for us. They drop bombs on the civilian population and have killed thousands of Afghans in the last seven years, while the Taliban get stronger day by day."
"We feel no change in our lives," said Mohammad Usman, a 40-year-old shopkeeper from Spin Boldak.
"They (foreign forces) are not the enemy of the Taliban, they are the enemy of the Afghan people. The U.S. army calls us al Qaeda and kills us but we don't know what al-Qaeda is."
It's all just swell.
The following is from AFP.
WHO says Afghan polio campaign to go ahead despite killings
The World Health Organisation said Wednesday that a polio vaccination campaign in southern Afghanistan would go ahead despite the killing of two doctors in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.
"Today, the country and Kandahar team has finally decided to continue the campaign to take forward the mission of polio eradication for which our two colleagues sacrificed their lives," Kabul-based WHO official Tahir Mir said.
The WHO had said on Tuesday that the campaign targeting 1.2 million children under five in Afghanistan's southern regions, due to start on September 21, had been cancelled following the attack.
But Mir said on Wednesday that the WHO's staff in Afghanistan are "totally committed to this noble cause and do not feel defeated due to this recent sabotage activity."
The campaign "will be carried out in all the planned areas on the scheduled dates, September 21-23," he added.
Two Afghan doctors working for the WHO were killed in a suicide car bombing in southeastern Afghanistan Sunday that was claimed by the Taliban.
The WHO said earlier this week that a similar campaign in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman was still likely to go ahead, as were future campaigns in the south in October and November.