Killing of deminers sparks condemnation

Written by The Frontier Post

KABUL (Tolo News): The killing of 10 deminers and the wounding of 16 others from the HALO Trust organization by unknown gunmen in northern Baghlan province on Tuesday night has sparked strong international reactions. Unknown masked gunmen attacked the organization’s office in Baghlan-e-Marzaki district, said a security official who wished not to be named.
The wounded deminers, along with the bodies of the slain, were transferred to a public hospital in Pul-e-Khumri City, the center of Baghlan. Those who survived the attack said “the gunmen had sound suppressors on their weapons and gathered all the workers in one room and started shooting.”
“There were five attackers and they collected all the workers’ phones and money,” said the survivors. The EU Special Envoy for Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Marjolijn van Deelen, in a tweet said: “We are shocked by the brutality of this act. This is heart breaking news, may they rest in peace.”
“Violence must stop,” said Marjolijn van Deelan, and peace talks must “move forward to substantial negotiations.” US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson in a tweet said: “This attack on the HALO Trust mine clearers in Baghlan is horrific and senseless. The United States condemns these killings; humanitarian and aid workers are protected by International Humanitarian Law. I call for an immediate investigation.”
“Mine clearers are the bravest of the brave. They make Afghanistan a safer place to raise a family, grow a business, build a farm, and enjoy a full life. My condolences go out to the families of the fallen,” he said. The European Union’s special envoy Tomas Niklasson also said in a tweet: “Humanitarian workers, including those who provide services to Afghans throughout the country, are to be protected under international humanitarian law.”
“Those who attack humanitarian workers attack their own people and show a complete disregard for Islamic values,” he said. The German embassy said on Twitter: “We are deeply shocked and dismayed by the heinous and cowardly attack against the HALO Trust deminers in Baghlan province last night.”
“This was an attack not only against innocent civilians, but also against brave people who work for all Afghans, reducing the danger mines pose to citizens in many parts of the country,” it said. “We strongly believe in their work.” Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, issued a statement: “I strongly condemn the heinous attack on the Halo Trust NGO yesterday in Baghlan Province in northern Afghanistan which reportedly killed at least 10 people and injured 16 others.”
“It is repugnant that an organization that works to clear landmines and other explosives and better the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted,” he said. “Aid workers and humanitarian organisations are protected under International Humanitarian Law. We call for a full investigation to ensure that those responsible for any violations are held accountable and brought to justice,” he said.
HALO Trust, a mine clearance organization, confirmed that 10 of its staff were killed and 16 others were wounded by an unknown armed group at a demining camp in Baghlan province on Tuesday night. “Around 110 men from local communities in northern Afghanistan were in the camp having finished their work on nearby minefields,” it said.

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