Aid group halts work in Afghanistan

Men stand next to the bodies of the workers who were killed by Taliban militants in the western Herat Province on August 26.

A US-based aid organization says it has temporarily suspended operations across Afghanistan after Taliban militants executed five of its employees in the country’s troubled west.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) confirmed on Wednesday that at least five Afghan staff members had been taken hostage on August 25 and killed by their captors a day later in the Gulran district of the western Herat Province.

Local officials said a delegation of tribal elders had hoped to save the lives of the employees, but arrived too late to plead for a halt to the executions.

The aid workers had been trying to improve project management across the impoverished region.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly condemned the brutal killings.

Å“The killing of innocent engineers and workers shows that the Taliban and their foreign masters want Afghanistan to be an impoverished and underdeveloped country forever,” Karzai said in a statement on Tuesday.

In late April, the Taliban announced the start of their annual “spring offensive” against US-led and Afghan forces, vowing a new wave of attacks across Afghanistan.

Taliban militants have carried out numerous attacks against security forces as well as civilians and managed to spread their influence in various regions of the country, despite frequent offensives by the Afghan and foreign soldiers.

Moreover, US-led foreign forces have killed thousands of people, including many civilians, in airstrikes and night-time raids since they invaded the country in 2001.

Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.

Civilian casualties caused by foreign forces have been a major source of tension between Kabul and Washington.

Violence continues to plague Afghanistan despite the presence of thousands of foreign forces, more than a decade after the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

JR/KA

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Republished from: Press TV