KABUL, Afghanistan — At the very least 10 folks have been killed and 16 others injured in an armed assault on employees members of a British-American charity in Afghanistan that has been clearing land mines within the nation for many years, officers stated on Wednesday.
Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Inside Ministry, blamed the Taliban for the assault, which occurred late Tuesday at a demining camp within the northeastern province of Baghlan and focused staff of the HALO Belief. He stated the victims have been all Afghan residents, and the wounded have been transferred to hospitals.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, denied any involvement and stated that the realm the place the “horrifying” assault had taken place was not below the militant group’s management. He added in a publish on Twitter: “We condemn assaults on the defenseless & view it as brutality. Now we have regular relations with NGOs, our Mujahidin won’t ever perform such brutal acts.”
The HALO Belief condemned the assault in a assertion on Wednesday. It stated that 110 males from native communities had been finishing up humanitarian work on the demining camp throughout the assault by an “unknown armed group.”
Tolo Information, a information community in Afghanistan, revealed footage on Twitter that it stated confirmed folks injured within the assault being taken on stretchers to a public hospital in Pul-e-Khumri, a metropolis about 140 miles north of Kabul, the capital.
Baghlan Province is one of many locations the place the Taliban have been attacking in latest weeks as they’ve seized management of territory and navy outposts in a number of elements of the nation. One assault on a safety depot there in late Might killed eight territorial military troopers and wounded 10 others.
The Taliban’s advances coincide with the withdrawal of United States troops and their NATO allies from the nation, a course of that’s anticipated to finish by early to mid-July. Officers within the Biden administration, which is keen to forestall the nation’s cities from falling to the Taliban, are debating whether or not American warplanes ought to present air assist to Afghan forces.
Washington’s peace envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, completed a four-day go to to Kabul on Tuesday. Mr. Khalilzad is an Afghan-born American diplomat who led negotiations forward of the Trump administration’s February 2020 peace deal with the Taliban, which laid out the situations and timeline for the American withdrawal.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul stated in a assertion on Wednesday that American leaders met their Afghan counterparts within the metropolis this week and “agreed that sustaining political unity was important throughout this era of transition.”
The HALO Belief, a British charity with an American affiliate registered in Washington, started working in Afghanistan in 1988. Its subject groups clear land mines, eliminate unexploded ordnance present in bombs and bullets, and construct amenities to retailer weapons and different weapons safely. The group has packages in 26 nations and territories, together with in Iraq, the place it started working in 2018.
The HALO program in Afghanistan, which began months earlier than the Soviet Military pulled overseas in 1989, employs greater than 2,600 native employees members and stays the group’s largest operation on this planet. HALO says on its web site that over the previous 30 years, it has labored with the Afghan authorities to make almost 80 p.c of the nation’s recorded minefields and battlefields protected.
Nonetheless, the group says, an space of Afghanistan as massive as Chicago nonetheless must be cleared.
Diana, Princess of Wales, known as consideration to HALO’s work in 1997, when she walked by means of a reside minefield in Angola — as soon as residence to one of many most heated Chilly Warfare conflicts in Africa — to spotlight the hazard of mines all over the world.
Diana’s youngest son, Prince Harry, retraced her steps in 2019 throughout a visit by means of the continent together with his spouse, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and their son. HALO stated on the time that it had cleared about 100,000 mines in Angola since Diana’s go to.
Najim Rahim reported from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Mike Ives from Hong Kong. Fatima Faizi contributed reporting from Kabul.