Taliban Loyalists Beat Afghan U.N. Staff

Taliban supporters have beaten several Afghan employees working for the United Nations in Afghanistan, a U.N. spokeswoman said Wednesday.

"Staff have been beaten in Kabul, Kandahar and in Jalalabad," spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker said in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. She also said a number of vehicles had been taken by the Taliban in Kandahar, the headquarters of the ruling religious militia.

Three ambulances and a pickup truck were among the vehicles seized, she said.

Since Sunday, U.S. missiles and airstrikes have been pummeling the three cities where the attacks took place. The airstrikes are in response to the Taliban's refusal to hand over terror suspect Usama bin Laden, accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The U.N. withdrew its international staff from Afghanistan two days after the attacks because of fears of American military action. Hundreds of Afghan employees remained behind in the country, trying to continue delivering food and other humanitarian aid.

On Monday, four security guards at a U.N.-affiliated mine-clearing operation were killed during an American air raid on the capital.  

After a 1998 U.S. missile attack on Afghanistan, angry protesters in Kabul killed one U.N. international staffer and injured another. The 1998 missile strikes were in response to the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, also blamed on bin Laden.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.