Mehrab Ibrahimi / AP
KABUL, Afghanistan – Gunmen opened fire Tuesday night on dozens of deminers working for a British charity, killing 10 men and wounding 16. The incident occurred in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan, according to the HALO Trust charity and the Afghan Ministry of the Interior.
A video shared by TOLO News from Afghanistan The site showed men taking the wounded to a hospital in the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri. One was carried on a stretcher; two men picked up another.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
The HALO Trust what founded in Kabul in 1988 with the mission of removing landmines in conflict zones, and has worked in the country since then, employing more than 2,600 Afghans, according to their website. It says it has “protected nearly 80 percent of the country’s recorded battlefields and minefields” and also supports landmine victims.
The charity is registered in Great Britain and works in conflict zones around the world. Claim to fame after princess diana walked through one of his minefields in Angola in 1997.
The attack highlighted deteriorating security across Afghanistan as American and foreign allies withdraw their troops and equipment from the country, even as government forces fight to hold off the Taliban.
Insurgents have taken over 17 districts of Afghanistan in recent weeks, according to local media. More recent, invaded Jaghatu district spanning Maidan Wardak and Ghazni provinces, south of Kabul. Then the taliban claimed to have shot down an Afghan military plane which was apparently trying to land to resupply. A spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, Tariq Arian, told NPR that the plane crashed due to technical errors, killing three crew members.
In Baghlan province, gunmen began their attack when some 110 workers gathered at the HALO Trust camp, “having finished their work in nearby minefields,” the trust said in a statement. posted on Twitter.
Although the Taliban have been clashing with Afghan forces in Baghlan, and even seized the Burka district in early May, the province’s deputy governor said there were no clashes in the area when the attack occurred.
Mahboobullah Ghafari These HALO Trust men had been working in the area for three days and had pitched tents in a central area known as Sheikh Jalal.
He said the thieves were probably behind the attack. “These were thieves who had gone there, the [group] they had machines that they wanted to steal. But when they saw a lot of guys inside the store, they opened fire. “
But the Afghan government blamed the Taliban. “The Taliban terrorists claim they will protect the people who are here to help, but they are doing the opposite,” Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told NPR.
The Taliban denied the accusation. A spokesperson using the name Zabihullah Mujahid tells NPR that they condemned the attack. Hears added on Twitter who see such attacks as “brutality”.
“Our mujahidin will never carry out such brutal acts,” he wrote.
In a statement, the United Nations condemned the killings.
“It is disgusting that an organization that works to clear landmines and other explosives and improve the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted.” said Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN humanitarian coordinator. He called for a “full investigation to ensure that those responsible for any violations are held accountable and brought to justice.”
The Afghan government has not carried out serious or satisfactory investigations into a series of attacks by militants that have affected its citizens over the years, according to Human rights observer. The group says the government neither has he investigated the murders from journalists, human rights activists, clergymen and judicial workers who began to escalate after the Afghan government launched peace talks with the Taliban.
Khwaga Ghani reported from Kabul. Diaa Hadid reported from Fremantle, Australia. Abdul Sattar contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.