Afghan mine-clearing workers killed in gun attack
Another day of bloodshed in Afghanistan, with gunmen targeting workers at a mine-clearing compound in the country's north. Kabul is blaming the Taliban for the attack, but the group denies any involvement.
According to reports, the attack occurred at around 10 p.m. Tuesday, when dozens of people, working for the HALO Trust mine-clearing organization, were having some rest after a day spent removing ordnance from nearby minefields in Baghlan province.
The UK-based organization — the largest de-mining group in Afghanistan — said "an unknown armed group" killed 10 staff and wounded 16 others.
It said, “Around 110 men, from local communities in northern Afghanistan, were in the camp."
According to officials, the attackers were wearing masks.
Afghan Interior Ministry Spokesman Tareq Arian said, "The Taliban entered a compound of a mine-clearing agency ... and started shooting everyone.”
Provincial police spokesman Jawed Basharat also said that Taliban militants “brought them [workers] into one room and opened fire on them.”
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, however, denied the militants were involved in the attack.
"We condemn attacks on the defenseless & view it as brutality," he said on Twitter. "We have normal relations with NGOs, our Mujahidin will never carry out such brutal acts."
Baghlan province has seen fierce fighting in recent months, with near-daily battles between the Taliban and government forces in several districts.