HALO Trust: Scottish-based mine-clearing charity say 10 local staff killed and 16 injured by unknown armed group in Afghanistan

A mine-clearing charity based in Scotland has announced that 10 of their staff have been killed and 16 injured by an ‘unknown armed group’ wearing masks as they attempted to clear land mines in Afghanistan.

The coffins of the victims in Tuesday's attack are placed on the ground at a hospital in northern Baghlan province, Afghanistan, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Workers of the HALO Trust de-mining organization were attacked on Tuesday night by the armed gunmen. (AP Photo/Mehrab Ibrahimi)

The HALO Trust confirmed that 9.50pm (local time) on June 8, ten of their staff were killed and 16 injured by an unknown armed group in the Baghlan Province of Afghanistan.

The masked group entered a demining camp and opened fire, according to the charity.

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Those killed and injured were all Afghan residents working for the non-political and non-religious charity which has its headquarters in Thornhill near Dumfries.

Wounded people receive treatments at a hospital following an attack by masked gunmen which killed 10 people working for the HALO Trust mine-clearing organisation, at Pol-e-Khomri in Baghlan Province on June 9, 2021 (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images).

Around 110 men, from local communities in northern Afghanistan were in the camp having finished their work on nearby minefields when the attack took place.

Afghan officials – such as interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian – blamed the Taliban for the attack, saying militants "started shooting everyone."

However, Halo Trust CEO James Cowan told the BBC that "the local Taliban... came to our aid and scared the assailants off".

The Taliban has also denied the attack with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeting: “We condemn attacks on the defenceless and view it as brutality.

"Our Mujahideen will never carry out such brutal attacks."

A spokesperson for the HALO Trust said: "We strongly condemn the attack on our staff, who were carrying out humanitarian work to save lives.

"We are focussed now on care of the injured staff and supporting the families affected.”

HALO is a humanitarian mine clearance organisation that has been destroying explosive items in Afghanistan since 1988.

It was supported by Princess Diana, as well as by her son Prince Harry.

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