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Afghanistan mine clearance workers shot dead

In Afghanistan’s northern region of Baghlan, at least ten mine clearers working for Halo Trust have been killed, with another twenty injured.

Taliban fighters “began shooting everyone” in the facility, according to Afghan officials.

 

“The local Taliban… came to our help and chased the perpetrators away,” Halo Trust CEO James Cowan told the BBC. The incident was also rejected by the Taliban.

 

Since the United States began withdrawing its last troops on May 1, violence has increased.

 

The departure of multinational soldiers comes as peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have reached a stalemate.

Masked gunmen broke into their compound at 21:50 (17:20 GMT) on Tuesday, killing the workmen who had spent the day clearing mines from a nearby field.

“The Taliban entered a facility of a mine-clearing organization… and started shooting everyone,” Interior Ministry spokesperson Tareq Arian told reporters.

 

The Taliban, on the other hand, issued a fast denial.

 

“We condemn attacks on the defenseless and regard them as barbarism,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the militant group. “With NGOs [non-governmental organizations], we have normal interactions. Such atrocities would never be carried out by our Mujahideen.”

The attackers proceeded “bed to bed,” shooting the workers “in cold blood,” according to Mr Cowan of the Halo Trust, who also claimed that the local Taliban aided the deminers.

“It’s crucial to note that the Taliban have denied culpability for this, and in fact, the local Taliban organization rushed to our help and chased the perpetrators away,” he stated.

 

“We don’t know who the attackers were – we could conjecture, but I won’t – but I believe the Halo Trust has the capability to act on both sides of the line in this terrible fight,” he added.