Ten people are killed and 16 seriously injured after the Taliban accused a British landmine charity backed by Prince Harry of attacking them.
Last night’s bloody attack came as masked gunmen entered the Helo Trust camp in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province and opened fire on the occupants inside.
Paul McCann, head of communications for the charity, revealed: “10 Helo employees were killed and 16 injured by an unidentified armed group at a de-mining camp in Baghlan province, Afghanistan.
The group entered the camp and opened fire. About 110 men from local communities in northern Afghanistan were in the camp, who had finished their work in the nearby mine fields.
“We strongly condemn the attack on our employees who were doing humanitarian work to save lives.
“We are now focused on providing (care for) the injured staff and supporting the affected families.”
Afghanistan’s interior ministry this morning blamed the Taliban for the latest attack to shake the violence-hit country.
Spokesman Tariq Arian told reporters: “The Taliban broke into the premises of a mine-clearing agency…
However, the group has denied involvement in the “brutal” attack.
The Hello Trust was supported by Diana, Princess of Wales, and has had a close relationship with the Duke of Sussex.
Harry made an emotional trip to Africa in 2019 to retrace in the footsteps of his mother, who famously walked through a partially cleared Angolan mine in 1997 to highlight the Trust’s efforts and the threat of military weapons.
During his visit to Dirico, in southern Angola, the duke first witnessed Halo’s work, donning body armor and a face mask, to inspect an area of bush being cleared of ordnance by the charity.
According to its website, Hello Trust employs approximately 9,000 people and operates in more than 20 countries and territories around the world.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the militants’ involvement in the attack.
“We condemn the attacks on the defenseless and view it as cruelty,” he said on Twitter.
We have normal relations with NGOs, our Mujahideen will never do such a cruel act.
Baglan province has seen fierce fighting in recent months, with almost daily fighting between the Taliban and government forces in several districts.
Violence has escalated across the country since May 1 when US forces began their final military withdrawal amid a stalemate in peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
In several districts where fighting has intensified in recent months, insurgents have planted roadside bombs and mines to target government forces, but the explosives often kill and injure civilians.
Afghanistan was already one of the most mined countries in the world, a legacy of decades of conflict.
On Wednesday, the Taliban claimed it had shot down an Afghan military helicopter in Wardak province near Kabul, but the Defense Ministry said the plane had crashed due to “technical reasons”.
The ministry said three crew members were killed in the incident.
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