Gunmen kill 10 mine-clearing workers in Afghanistan

Masked gunmen killed 10 folks working for the HALO Trust mine-clearing organisation in northern Afghanistan in an assault the federal government blamed on the Taliban Wednesday, however the UK-based charity mentioned the insurgents really helped finish the assault.

The raid occurred late on Tuesday as dozens of deminers have been enjoyable at a HALO compound in Baghlan province, round 260 kilometres (160 miles) north of the capital, after a day spent searching for ordnance in the realm.

Baghlan has seen fierce preventing in latest months, with near-daily battles between the Taliban and authorities forces in a number of districts.

A survivor of Tuesday’s assault informed AFP that 5 or 6 armed males scaled the compound partitions and gathered everybody collectively earlier than asking if there have been any Hazara current.

Afghanistan’s Shiite Hazara group is commonly focused by jihadists from the Islamic State, who think about them heretics.

“Nobody responded,” mentioned the survivor, who requested to not be recognized.

He informed AFP the gunmen then requested the compound chief to establish himself, earlier than capturing him lifeless.

“Then one of them said ‘kill them all’,” he mentioned.

“As they opened fire, we all tried to escape. Some were killed and some, like me, were wounded.”

(*10*)

Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh blamed the Taliban for the assault, saying in a tweet the insurgents needed to “steal money and unexploded devices” from the HALO base.

But James Cowan, chief govt of HALO, informed BBC radio that the insurgents really helped finish the assault that additionally left 16 workers wounded.

Cowan mentioned the attackers went “bed to bed, murdering in cold blood my staff”.

“This is a horrific incident, the worst in the HALO Trust’s history,” he mentioned.

The Taliban dismissed the federal government’s accusation that they have been behind the assault — and Cowen additionally mentioned the insurgents weren’t accountable.

“The Taliban have denied responsibility for this and indeed the local Talib group came to our aid and scared off the assailants,” he mentioned, including his organisation was unaware who the attackers have been.

The Taliban earlier denied any blame.

“We condemn attacks on the defenseless & view it as brutality,” Zabihullah Mujahid mentioned on Twitter.

“We have normal relations with NGOs, our Mujahideen will never carry out such brutal acts.”

Violence has surged throughout the nation since May 1 when the US navy started its closing troop withdrawal amid a impasse in peace talks between the Afghan authorities and the Taliban.

In a number of districts the place preventing has been intense in latest months, the insurgents have planted roadside bombs and mines to focus on authorities forces, however the explosives usually kill and wound civilians.

Afghanistan was already one of the closely mined nations in the world, a legacy of a long time of battle.

The HALO Trust was based in 1988 particularly to deal with ordnance left following the close to ten-year Soviet occupation, and have become a favorite reason for Britain’s Princess Diana.

The organisation’s web site says it has an Afghan workforce of greater than 2,600 and has eliminated landmines from practically 80 p.c of the nation’s recorded minefields and battlefields.

The United Nations Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov condemned what he mentioned was a “heinous attack” on HALO workers.

“It is repugnant that an organisation that works to clear landmines and other explosives and better the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted,” he mentioned in an announcement.

On Wednesday, the Taliban claimed it had shot down an Afghan navy helicopter in the province of Wardak close to Kabul, however the defence ministry mentioned the plane had crashed on account of “technical reasons”.

Three crew members have been killed in the incident, the ministry mentioned.

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