June 9 (UPI) — Nearly a dozen mine sweepers from a British-American charity have been killed in northern Afghanistan during an attack on their office, authorities said.
Officials said the attack occurred late Tuesday at the HALO Trust organization’s camp in Baghlan.
Ten deminers were killed and several others were injured in the attack. Baghlan is located about 100 miles northwest of Kabul.
HALO Trust, a mine clearance group, said more than 100 men were in the camp after finishing demining work in nearby minefields.
“We strongly condemn the attack on our staff, who were carrying out humanitarian work to save lives,” the organization told Tolo News.
No group initially claimed responsibility for the attack, but Kabul’s interior ministry blamed the Taliban. The militant group denied involvement.
“The local Taliban… came to our aid and scared the assailants off,” HALO Trust CEO James Cowan told the BBC.
Violence across Afghanistan has increased since the United States formally began withdrawing troops last month after two decades of a constant presence. U.S. President Joe Biden has said the withdrawal will be complete by September. Earlier this month, U.S. Central Command said the pullout was almost 45% complete.
Several districts in Baghlan province have experienced fighting between the Taliban and government forces.