ALGIERS, (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday inspected the shattered remains of U.N. buildings destroyed in twin car bombing in Algiers that killed at least 37 people including 17 U.N. staff, witnesses said.
Ban, on a one-day visit to Algeria, was also expected to visit U.N,. workers wounded in the Dec. 11 suicide attacks, the second big bombing this year in the capital of the north African OPEC member country.
“Terrorism is never justified,” the official APS news agency quoted Ban as saying on arrival. “It must be condemned in the name of humanity and the international community.” He said Algeria and the world body “are working together closely to fight terrorism.”
Witnesses said Ban was driven in a heavily guarded procession of ehicles to the city’s Hydra district where he inspected crumpled blocks of masonry at the site of the ruined offices of the U.N.’s refugee agency and the U.N. Development Programme.
Reporters were not permitted to accompany Ban to the site.
A second suicide car bombing on Dec. 11 damaged the Constitutional Court building in Ben Aknoun district.
Ban was also expected to meet President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Al Qaeda’s North African wing claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings, saying it had targeted what it called “the slaves of America and France”.
The United Nations has identified the dead U.N. employees as 14 Algerians and one victim each from Denmark, Senegal and the Philippines.
Ban said at the time that the bombs were “a despicable strike against individuals serving humanity’s highest ideals under the U.N. banner” and “an attack on all of us”.
U.N. Development Programme Administrator Kemal Dervis said during a visit to Algiers last week that the United Nations was boosting security at its offices around the world after Tuesday’s attacks, but he said this would need more funding. “The Secretary-General is coming in the name of the international organisation to express solidarity with all of its members,” state-owned El Moudjahid newspaper wrote in a report on Ban’s trip. “He will meet Algerian leaders to discuss the best way of countering this (terrorism) scourge which affects the whole world.”