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Charity’s shock as workers killed

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By Donald Turvill
Front
Charity’s shock as workers killed
SHOCKED . . . Halo Trust CEO James Cowan says the attack "was not expected"

TEN AFGHAN men were shot dead “in cold blood” whilst working for a Thornhill-based humanitarian charity this week.

The Halo Trust, which works to clear debris and land mines in war-torn countries, confirmed news of the bloody attack which happened shortly before 10 pm on Tuesday night.

Gunmen raided the trust’s camp in Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan where 110 workers, mostly local to the area, had retired from a day of clearing unexploded bombs.

One survivor recalled the horror, saying: “Five to six armed men came; they took us to a room. First they took all our money and mobile phones, and then they asked who our leader was. They asked, ‘Is any Hazara here among you?’ We told them, ‘We don’t have any Hazara here’.”

Hazaras are Afghanistan’s third-largest ethnic group and have suffered discrimination for years due to their Shia Muslim faith. Swathes have been killed and abducted by IS and the Taliban, which are both Sunni Muslim.

IS have claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s killing spree whilst the Taliban, who Afghan officials pinned the blame on, denied any involvement.

Furthermore, Halo Trust CEO James Cowan told the BBC that the local Taliban “came to our aid and scared the assailants off”.

He said the perpetrators went “bed to bed, murdering in cold blood”, adding that the attack was the worst experienced in the 33-year history of the charity, which has its headquarters at Carronfoot, near Thornhill.

“This is a horrific incident,” Mr Cowan said. “It’s very sad, but we are here for Afghanistan. We were in Afghanistan many years before 9/11 and we will be there many years after the international withdrawal.

“This was not expected. The broader security situation is understood, but this kind of cold-blooded killing was not expected.”

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