Taliban fighters have killed at least 12 workers clearing mines in the country’s south, according to an Afghan police spokesperson, but the group has not yet claimed responsibility for the attack.
Farid Ahmad Obaid said the attack happened on Saturday at the Shorab camp in Helmand province, the Associated Press news agency reported.
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Obaid identified the company working on the project as Star Link.
Ghulam Farouk Parwani, a military commander at the camp, told Al Jazeera that six workers were wounded in the attack
The deminers, who lived on the base, were reportedly travelling to work in the Nad Ali district when they were attacked, Parwani said.
The Afghan army and the air force launched a counterattack, killing four of the assailants and capturing three, he told Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said security was a huge task for the Afghan National Army (ANA) as the NATO troops withdrew from Afghanistan.
“There is a lot of concerns among Afghans here about security and how tenuous it is. There is a lot of concern from people that they could just be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The ANA, as large as it is, cannot be everywhere and they know they don’t have everything they need to fight the Taliban, they know longer have the intelligence ISAF provided.”
Heavily mined country
Afghanistan, which has suffered decades of continuous war, is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.
Those working on projects to clear mines often find themselves targeting by the Taliban and other armed groups in the country.
News of the Helmand assault came just hours after Afghan authorities said a senior official of the country’s Supreme Court has been shot and killed in the capital, Kabul.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack that killed Atiqullah Rawoofi, the head of the secretariat of Afghanistan’s Supreme Court.
Farid Afzali, chief of Kabul police’s criminal investigation unit, said the attack occurred early on Saturday morning near Rawoofi’s home in a northwestern Kabul neighbourhood.
A colleague of Rawoofi, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said two men on a motorbike shot Rawoofi as he was walking from his home to his car.
Meawnhile, a suicide attack in the Afghan capital on Saturday targeted a bus carrying army personnel. Reports said the bus was burnt down. At least 14 people were reportedly injured, the ministry of defence told Al Jazeera.
The Taliban has intensified attacks in the run-up to the withdrawal of most foreign troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.
On Friday night an attack on a convoy in eastern Afghanistan left two US soldiers dead, AP news agency reported.
On Thursday seven people were killed in two suicide attacks in Kabul, including one targeting a play at a French-financed high school.
It came just hours after another suicide attack on a bus carrying Afghan troops in Kabul’s suburbs killed six soldiers.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, claimed both bombings in separate email statements, saying the theatre show was “desecrating Islamic values” and “propaganda against jihad”.
The UN Security Council issued a unanimous statement condemning the attacks which also voiced “serious concern at the threats posed by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist and extremist groups, and illegal armed groups”.