New Delhi: At least 10 people were killed and 16 injured in an attack on members of the British-American organisation The HALO Trust — a landmine clearance charity — Wednesday in Afghanistan.
In an official statement, the trust said that an unknown armed group entered the camp and opened fire. Around 110 men from local communities in Afghanistan were in the demining camp after having finished their work on nearby fields.
— The HALO Trust (@TheHALOTrust) June 9, 2021
According to the BBC, the Afghan officials blamed the Taliban and said that militants “started shooting everyone” in the compound. However, the Taliban has denied any involvement in the attack.
“Attack on deminers in Markazi Baghlan, martyrdom of 10 & injuries to multiple has no relation with IEA Mujahidin. We condemn attacks on the defenceless and view it as brutality,” the militant group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.
“We have normal relations with NGOs. Our Mujahideen will never carry out such brutal attacks,” he added and even condemned the attack.
Attack on deminers in Markazi Baghlan, martyrdom of 10 & injuries to multiple has no relation with IEA Mujahidin.
We condemn attacks on the defenseless & view it as brutality. We have normal relations with NGOs, our Mujahidin will never carry out such brutal acts. https://t.co/6CUbjWJyHL
— Zabihullah (..ذبـــــیح الله م ) (@Zabehulah_M33) June 9, 2021
Even James Cowan, CEO of The HALO Trust said that the attackers went “bed to bed” shooting the workers “in cold blood” but that the local Taliban helped the deminers.
“I think it’s important to know that the Taliban have denied responsibility for this, and indeed the local Taliban group came to our aid and scared the assailants off,” he said.
In a clip shared by Baghlan police, a survivor of the attack said the gunmen asked if any of them were from the Hazara minority community before opening fire.
What is The HALO Trust?
The HALO Trust is one of several demining organisations in Afghanistan that clears explosive mines.
It has been destroying explosive items in Afghanistan since 1988. The trust, which was founded in the UK was supported by Princess Diana, as well as by her son Prince Harry. In 1988, as Soviet troops withdrew, they left behind several landmines, causing a massive humanitarian crisis.
After the end of a conflict, when land is littered with landmines and other dangerous explosives, the trust recruits and trains local men and women to clear landmines in their own communities and pays them for the work.
The trust currently has 8,600 employees, of which 98 per cent come from the communities they serve.
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