ISIS claims killing deminers in north Afghanistan

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The ISIS affiliate has claimed a horrific attack this week that killed 10 workers of the HALO Trust demining organization and wounded 16 others in Afghanistan's northern Baghlan province.

The statement issued late on Wednesday said ISIS operatives killed and wounded 60 workers “firing on them with their machine guns.”

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According to reports from survivors the gunmen were looking for ethnic Hazaras, who in most parts of Afghanistan are Shia Muslims in mostly Sunni Afghanistan. However in northern Afghanistan many of the Hazaras are Sunni Muslim. It was not clear whether the ISIS gunmen were aware that the Hazaras among the deminers were Sunni Muslims.

Survivors said the gunmen also wanted to know if there were any Taliban among the workers.

The ISIS affiliate has declared war on the country's Shia Muslims, who are mostly ethnic Hazaras in the rest of Afghanistan, with some pockets of Sunni Muslim Hazaras in the north. The ISIS affiliate has also declared war on the Taliban, whom they are fighting in bitter battles in eastern Afghanistan.

Three Hazaras were among the dead. It's not clear whether Taliban were also among the dead.

According to The HALO Trust Global Media Manager, Louise Vaughan, there were 110 demining local personnel of the organization in the camp that was attacked. They had finished their work on a minefield nearby when the “unknown armed group” opened fire at them. The attack took place late in the night on Tuesday at the HALO camp in camp in the Baghlan Markazi district of northern Baghlan province.

The Taliban immediately denied any connection to the attack, while the government blamed the insurgent group.

The attack was condemned by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who called it “heinous.” in a statement, it said that “aid workers and humanitarian organizations are protected under international humanitarian law,”

The HALO Trust is one of several de-mining organizations in Afghanistan that clear unexploded mines.

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