Gunmen killed 10 people and injured 14 others in an attack on the demining organization HALO Trust in Afghanistan, an Afghan interior ministry official said on Wednesday.
Spokesman Tariq Arian blames the Taliban for Tuesday night’s attack on the group’s camp in Baghlan Markazi district, northern Baghlan province.
The Taliban immediately denied any connection to the attack, in response to a request from the Associated Press.
HALO Trust’s global media manager Louise Vaughan, in response to the AP, said 110 of the organization’s local demining staff were at the camp after completing their work at a nearby minefield when the “unknown armed group” opened fire on them.
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The statement said 16 of their troops were injured. Immediately, the controversy was not raised.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called the attack “heinous” in a statement, adding that “aid workers and organizations are protected by international humanitarian law”.
The United Nations has warned that the use of improvised explosive devices in the country is on the increase, as conflicts escalate and armed groups proliferate.
Afghanistan is one of many countries where large swathes of its territory are littered with bombs and landmines. Many have been planted by insurgents to target government military convoys. But civilian casualties are frequent.
The United Nations has repeatedly called on government forces and the Taliban to take more precautions to protect civilians. In the first three months of this year, the UN mission in Afghanistan said 1,783 civilians were killed or injured in Afghanistan, a 29% increase from the same period last year.
The HALO Trust is one of several demining organizations in Afghanistan that clears unexploded mines.
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Meanwhile, the Afghan Defense Ministry said in a statement that an MI-17 helicopter crashed due to technical issues. The accident in the eastern province of Maidan Wardak killed three crew members and injured one.
But the Taliban in a separate statement claimed responsibility for the crash of the helicopter in the Jaghatu district of Maidan Wardak while providing aid to security forces on the battlefield. The Defense Ministry rejected the Taliban’s request.
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