10 HALO Trust staff killed northern Afghanistan: Official

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10 HALO Trust staff killed northern Afghanistan: Official

Kabul, June 9  

Gunmen killed 10 people and wounded 14 others in an attack on the HALO Trust de-mining organisation in Afghanistan, an Afghan interior ministry official said Wednesday.

Spokesman Tariq Arian blamed the Taliban for the Tuesday night attack on the group’s camp in the Baghlan Markazi district of northern Baghlan province.

The Taliban immediately denied any connection to the attack, in response to an Associated Press query.

The HALO Trust Global Media Manager, Louise Vaughan, in response to the AP, said that 110 de-mining local personnel of the organisation were on camp after finishing their work on a minefield nearby when the “unknown armed group” opened fire at them.

The statement says that 16 of their personnel are wounded. Immediately the controversy was not cleared.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs called the attack “heinous” in a statement, adding that “aid workers and humanitarian organisations are protected under international humanitarian law,” The United Nations has warned that the use of improvised explosive devices in the country is increasing, as conflicts become more urbanized and armed groups proliferate.

Afghanistan is one of several countries where large swathes of its territory are littered with bombs and land mines. Many were planted by insurgents to target government military convoys. But civilian casualties are frequent.

The United Nations has repeatedly demanded both government forces and the Taliban take more precautions to protect civilians. In the first three months of this year, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said that 1,783 civilians had been killed or wounded in Afghanistan, an increase of 29 per cent over the same period last year.

The HALO Trust is one of several de-mining organisations in Afghanistan that clear unexploded mines.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s defence ministry in a statement says that an MI-17 helicopter has crashed, due to technical problems. The crash in the eastern Maidan Wardak province killed three crew members and wounded one.

But the Taliban in a separate statement claimed the downing of the helicopter in the Jaghatu district of Maidan Wardak as it was delivering help to the security forces on the battlefield. The defence ministry rejected the Taliban’s claim. (AP)

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