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Haqqani network hit with U.N. sanctions: U.S. envoy

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council's Taliban sanctions committee on Monday added the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, accused of high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, to a U.N. blacklist, the United States said.

The Security Council committee's move also singled out Qari Zakir, an operational commander involved in many of the network's highest-profile suicide attacks, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement.

"These sanctions oblige all U.N. member states to implement an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo against Zakir and the Haqqani Network," Rice said.

New additions to the Taliban sanctions list are relatively rare, since such moves are usually agreed upon unanimously. Council diplomats said it was especially significant that Pakistan, a member of the 15-nation council until the end of 2013, did not stand in the way of the moved.

The U.N. blacklist now contains 131 individuals, including Zakir, and three entities, one of which is the Haqqani network.

The United States designated the Haqqani network as a terrorist organization in September, a move the group's commanders said proved Washington was not sincere about peace efforts in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have long accused Pakistan of supporting the network, an allegation Islamabad denies.

The Haqqanis, who are allied with the Afghan Taliban, are some of the most experienced fighters in Afghanistan and have carried out several high-profile attacks on Western targets.

"Today's action by the Security Council expands upon these (U.N.) sanctions and confirms the international community's resolve to end the Haqqani Network's ability to execute violent attacks in Afghanistan," Rice said.

"It also reflects the Security Council's commitment to use and enforce sanctions against those who threaten peace in Afghanistan, in conjunction with a strong commitment to support Afghan-led peace and reconciliation," her statement added.

Rice said that as well as organizing suicide attacks, Zakir had trained militants to use small and heavy weapons and improvised explosive devices.

The U.S. State Department said separately on Monday that it added Zakir to the U.S. list of specially designated terrorists, a move aimed at freezing any property he might have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting any U.S. transactions with him.

"He has been involved in many of the Haqqani Network's high-profile suicide attacks and is partially responsible for making some of the final determinations on whether or not to proceed with large-scale attacks planned by local district-level commanders," the State Department said in a statement.

It said attacks using personnel selected and trained by Zakir included the 2010 attacks on coalition force bases in Afghanistan, the June 2011 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel, and the September 2011 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, which killed 16 Afghans, including at least six children.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in Washington; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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