Afghan Red Cross pauses aid after ‘despicable’ attack-NewsCO

February 9, 2017

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The bodies of the six workers have been taken to Mazar-e-Sharif

The Red Cross is pausing its work in Afghanistan following a recent attack on its workers, which the aid agency called “despicable”.

Six workers were killed in an ambush of their convoy on Wednesday by suspected militants. Two others are missing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said they needed to temporarily suspend aid activity to understand what happened.

The attack took place in northern Jowzjan province.

Local police believe it was carried out by militants from so-called Islamic State (IS).

The ICRC said in a statement that a team of three drivers and five field officers was on its way to deliver livestock materials to an area that needed aid, when their convoy was deliberately attacked.

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The ambush was a “despicable act” which “we condemn in the strongest possible terms”, officials said, adding: “Nothing can justify the murder of our colleagues and dear friends.”

The aid agency has had an uninterrupted presence in Afghanistan for 30 years, but will be putting its work on temporary hold as “we need to understand more clearly what happened”, ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said.

“But… this is one of the most critical humanitarian contexts and we will definitely do everything to continue our operations there.”

The bodies of the six workers were taken to the provincial capital Sheberghan and from there to Mazar-e-Sharif, officials said.

A search is under way the two ICRC employees who have not been accounted for.

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