Baghlan police spokesperson says at least 10 men who worked for mine-clearing agency Halo Trust were taken by the Taliban to a room and shot dead.

Afghan men look out from a damaged window of their building at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan December 20, 2020.
Afghan men look out from a damaged window of their building at the site of a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan December 20, 2020. (Reuters Archive)

The Taliban have shot dead at least 10 mine-clearing workers in northern Afghanistan, the country’s interior ministry has said.

The attack on the mine-clearing workers came late on Tuesday in Baghlan province, where fighting has been heavy in recent weeks.

"The Taliban entered a compound of a mine-clearing agency... and started shooting everyone," interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told reporters on Wednesday.

The SITE Monitoring website reported that Daesh had claimed responsibility for the attack.

READ MORE: Several civilians killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan

Execution-style killing

Provincial police spokesman Jawed Basharat said the workers were with the Halo Trust, the largest demining organisation in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban brought them into one room and opened fire on them," Basharat said. Fourteen people were wounded in the attack, he said.

A Taliban spokesman did not immediately respond to a message-seeking comment. Halo Trust also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After decades of conflict, Afghanistan is strewn with mines and unexploded ordnance, and agencies have been working to clear them in the years since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

READ MORE: Afghan interpreters fear Taliban reprisal despite group’s vow of no revenge

50 percent withdrawal of US soldiers from Afghanistan completed: CENTCOM

The withdrawal of more than half of the American soldiers from Afghanistan has been completed, the US Central Command announced on Tuesday.

It announced that the Department of Defense has so far retrograded the equivalent of approximately 500 C-17 loads of material out of Afghanistan and have turned nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment to the Defe nse Logistics Agency for disposition.

“The 13,000 pieces of equipment are comprised almost entirely of federal excess personal property. This equipment does not consist of defensive articles or are considered to be major equipment,” said the US Central Command.

Violence has surged in the war-weary country since the US announced its troops will leave by September 11. 

According to Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, more than 250 civilian casualties, allegedly caused by the Taliban, were recorded in May.

The Taliban, however, have rejected the government’s claim.

The US has so far handed over six facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

“US Central Command estimates that we have completed greater than 50 percent of the entire retrograde process,” announced the Central Command.

READ MORE: US withdrawal from Afghanistan is a pandora's box

The advancing Taliban in Afghanistan on Tuesday claimed capturing one more district in the northern Faryab province amid escalating violence leading to killings on all sides.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Ruhollah Ahmadzai, said the security forces had gone on a strategic retreat to avoid civilian casualties and have a comprehensive plan to retake these areas. “The situation in those areas (fallen to the Taliban) will change for the better in the near future,” he said.

According to the ministry, in the past 24 hours, 91 Taliban militants were killed and 63 injured in the ongoing clean-up operations.

Source: Reuters