10 mine-clearing workers gunned down in Afghanistan

KUNDUZ: Masked gunmen killed 10 people working for the Halo Trust mine-clearing organisation in northern Afghanistan in an attack the government blamed on the Taliban on Wednesday, but the Britain-based charity said the insurgents actually helped end the assault.

The raid happened late on Tuesday as dozens of deminers were relaxing at a Halo compound in Baghlan province, around 260km north of Kabul, after a day spent looking for ordnance in the area.

Baghlan has seen fierce fighting in recent months, with near-daily battles between the Taliban and government forces in several districts.

A survivor said that five or six armed men scaled the compound walls and gathered everyone together before asking if there were any Hazara present.

Afghanistan’s Shia Hazara community is often targeted by the militant Islamic State group. The SITE Monitoring website reported on Wednesday that IS had claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Nobody responded,” said the survivor, who asked not to be identified.

He said the gunmen then asked the compound leader to identify himself, before shooting him dead.

“Then one of them said `kill them all’,” he said.

“As they opened fire, we all tried to escape. Some were killed and some, like me, were wounded.”