The attack began at 9:50 p.m. local time when a group of armed men entered a HALO camp in northern Baghlan province “and went to bed to murder members of The HALO Trust,” he said. association CEO James Cowan told CNN.
About 110 men from local communities were in the camp at the time. Cowan said the gunmen demanded to know which members of the team were from the Hazara Shiite ethnic minority, adding that “when our staff refused to name them, the gunmen went from room to room to assassinate our staff. “.
Cowan said local members of the Taliban – whom the Afghan government initially blamed for the attack – came to the rescue in the attack.
“The local Taliban came to our aid and chased the attackers,” Cowan said.
The Taliban, who are fighting to overthrow the Afghan government, denied to Reuters any involvement in the attack.
Cowan said that despite the attack – and the expected withdrawal of US and NATO troops later this year – the association’s deminers “still have work to do.”
“We could be afraid of what is happening in Afghanistan. But we were there before September 11th. A whole decade ago. We have been through all the ups and downs of life and death in Afghanistan. And now, as the international community prepares to leave. We will stay, ”he said.
The HALO Trust was founded in Afghanistan in 1988 and now operates in 26 countries, including Angola, where – in 1997 – Princess Diana passed through one of her minefields.
The United Nations has called for a full investigation to “ensure those responsible for this horrific attack are held accountable and brought to justice,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York. York., Reuters reports.
The Halo Trust is the country’s largest demining organization and after decades of conflict Afghanistan is still strewn with mines and unexploded ordnance and agencies have worked to eliminate them since the Taliban ousted in 2001.
The Taliban are fighting government troops in 26 of the 34 provinces, and insurgents have recently captured more than 10 districts, according to government officials.