Afghanistan, 10 Halo Trust workers killed

The Afghan flag waves close to a castle The Afghan flag waves close to a castle Photo by Sohaib Ghyasi on Unsplash

09 June 2021

Worldwide condemnation following  the heinous  attack on staff of the demining organization in the province of Baghlan

The charity Halo Trust fell  victim to a brutal attack against its staff that left ten  dead and 16 wounded. The attack  took place during the  night, when a group of armed men entered one of the camps accommodating  workers of the organization in the northern Baghlan province and opened fire. In total, around 110 men from local communities were in the camp at the time of the attack, including Halo Trust workers that had spent the  day removing mines from a nearby field. The Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), an entity affiliated with extremist terrorist group ISIL, claimed responsibility for the incident. According to the CEO of the charity, Mr. James Cowan, the gunmen were targeting team members from the Shiite Hazara ethnic minority. However, as  the rest of the staff refused to identify  them, the gunmen  went from room to room and murdered  the staff.

Following the Afghan government’s accusation against the Taliban, this group  denied any affiliation with  the attack. In Mr  Cowan’s view, it was  the local members of the Taliban who “came to [their] rescue during the attack and chased the assailants away”, thus confirming  the version of that  group. Several representatives of the United Nations strongly condemned the assault. Dr. Razim Alakbarov, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, declared that “it is repugnant that an organization that works to clear landmines and other explosives and better the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted”. The UN Spokesperson Mr. Stéphane Dujarric called for a full investigation to ensure that those responsible are held accountable and brought to justice.

Despite attempts between the government and the Taliban to negotiate a peace agreement and the resumption in May of peace talks  after a long pause in Qatar, the humanitarian and security situation in the country remains very fragile. In particular, attacks on  humanitarian activities and incidents involving humanitarian workers  increased in 2020 by a staggering 140% as compared to  2019, this trend has been continuing in 2021:  between January and April of the present  year, 11 aid workers were killed, 27 injured and 36 abducted.




Author: Michele Pitta

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