Czech aid agency suspends activities after attack
KABUL/MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): People in Need (PIN), a Czech Republic-based non-governmental organization, on Thursday said it had temporarily suspended activities in Afghanistan after its staff members were killed in the Zare district of northern Balkh province two days back.
Seven aid workers and two security guards were shot dead at the group’s field office early Tuesday. The victims were all Afghan nationals employed by the Prague-based non-profit organisation.
Unidentified gunmen stormed the site in the Zare district at around 1:30am. They fatally shot two personnel guarding the compound before entering and killing the aid workers.
The NGO said in a statement: “The victims include five members of the National Solidarity Program team, two unarmed guards and two drivers hired by the organization.”
Among the five aid workers two were engineers, two social organizers including one woman, and a district team leader. Another two employees, who were also in the compound at the time, managed to survive by hiding in a dark room, Ross Hollister, People in Need country director in Afghanistan, said.
The organization would support the victims’ families by covering their funeral and other related expenses and providing them financial compensation, the statement added.
The compound, which consists of several office buildings and a guesthouse, has been used by People in Need since 2004, and was permanently staffed. The attackers entered the compound around 1:30 am and searched the rooms, killing everyone they could find.
PIN said the incident was the biggest tragedy in its history. No warnings, threats, or other messages were received to indicate an increased threat.
PIN has been helping in Zare district since 2002, originally facilitating the return of former refugees and gradually expanding its services to develop rural infrastructure including management of water resources, improving sanitation, and building education and health facilities.
“PIN would not resume work until the security of its employees is ensured,” the press release stated.
Basit Aini, Balkh Rural Rehabilitation and Development director, told Pajhwok Afghan News the NGO had resumed activities in Zare district but he did not have information about other areas.
According to ACBAR, an umbrella organization for NGOs operating in Afghanistan, 26 aid workers have been killed, 17 wounded and 40 abducted since January 2015.
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