Attack in Afghanistan Kills 10 Workers From Mine-Clearing Charity

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 10 individuals have been killed and 16 others injured in an armed assault on workers members of a British-American charity in Afghanistan that has been clearing land mines in the nation for many years, officers stated on Wednesday.

Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, blamed the Taliban for the assault, which occurred late Tuesday at a demining camp in the northeastern province of Baghlan and focused staff of the HALO Trust. He stated the victims have been all Afghan residents, and the wounded have been transferred to hospitals.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, denied any involvement and stated that the realm the place the “horrifying” assault had taken place was not below the militant group’s management. “We condemn attacks on the defenseless & view it as brutality,” he stated on Twitter. “We have normal relations with NGOs, our Mujahidin will never carry out such brutal acts.”

The HALO Trust stated in a press release on Wednesday that an “unknown armed group” had entered the demining camp at 9:50 p.m. on Tuesday and opened hearth on about 110 males from native communities who had been working in close by minefields. “We strongly condemn the attack on our staff, who were carrying out humanitarian work to save lives,” it stated.

Tolo News, a information community in Afghanistan, revealed footage on Twitter that it stated confirmed individuals injured in the assault being taken on stretchers to a public hospital in Pul-e-Khumri, a metropolis about 140 miles north of Kabul, the capital.

Ramiz Alakbarov, the United Nations secretary normal’s deputy particular consultant for Afghanistan, known as for an investigation into the assault and described it as “heinous.”

“It is repugnant that an organization that works to clear land mines and other explosives and better the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted,” he stated in a press release.

Baghlan Province is among the locations the place the Taliban have been attacking in latest weeks as they’ve seized management of territory and army outposts in a number of components of the nation. One assault on a safety depot there in late May killed eight territorial military troopers and wounded 10 others.

The Taliban’s advances coincide with the withdrawal of United States troops and their NATO allies from the nation, a course of that’s anticipated to finish by early to mid-July. Officials in the Biden administration, which is keen to forestall the nation’s cities from falling to the Taliban, are debating whether or not American warplanes ought to present air help to Afghan forces.

Washington’s peace envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, completed a four-day go to to Kabul on Tuesday. Mr. Khalilzad is an Afghan-born American diplomat who led negotiations forward of the Trump administration’s February 2020 peace cope with the Taliban, which laid out the circumstances and timeline for the American withdrawal.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul stated in a press release on Wednesday that American leaders met their Afghan counterparts in town this week and “agreed that maintaining political unity was essential during this period of transition.”

The HALO Trust, a British charity with an American affiliate registered in Washington, started working in Afghanistan in 1988. Its discipline groups clear land mines, eliminate unexploded ordnance discovered in bombs and bullets, and construct services to retailer weapons and different weapons safely. The group has packages in 26 international locations and territories, together with in Iraq, the place it started working in 2018.

The HALO program in Afghanistan, which began months earlier than the Soviet Army pulled overseas in 1989, employs greater than 2,600 native workers members and stays the group’s largest operation in the world. HALO says on its web site that over the previous 30 years, it has labored with the Afghan authorities to make practically 80 % of the nation’s recorded minefields and battlefields secure.

Still, the group says, an space of Afghanistan as giant as Chicago nonetheless must be cleared.

Diana, Princess of Wales, known as consideration to HALO’s work in 1997, when she walked by a stay minefield in Angola — as soon as dwelling to one of the heated Cold War conflicts in Africa — to focus on the hazard of mines world wide.

Diana’s youngest son, Prince Harry, retraced her steps in 2019 throughout a visit by the continent together with his spouse, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their son. HALO stated on the time that it had cleared about 100,000 mines in Angola since Diana’s go to.

Najim Rahim reported from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Mike Ives from Hong Kong. Fatima Faizi contributed reporting from Kabul.