People in Need is a non-governmental aid organization that operates worldwide, including in Nepal, Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine. Nine of the aid agency's workers were killed in an attack on Tuesday in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of People in Need - Official/Facebook
KABUL, Afghanistan, June 2 (UPI) -- Nine local humanitarian workers were killed in northern Afghanistan when mulitple gunmen broke into an aid agency's compound early Tuesday.
The non-governmental organization People in Need was attacked at a house it used as an office and as a residence in the Zari district of Afghanistan's Balkh province. The charity from the Czech Republic has spent more than a decade delivering agricultural, educational and health services to the region.
The attack happened at about 1:30 a.m. The victims were two drivers, two guards and five staff members -- all of whom were Afghans.
People in Need's Afghanistan director Ross Hollister said the victims were working for the Afghan government's National Solidarity Program, which assists people living in rural areas.
"We did not receive any strong threats before. We were well received in the community," Hollister told The New York Times. People in Need has suspended all activities in Afghanistan.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the attack follows an ongoing offensive by the Taliban across Afghanistan.
The Taliban attacked the Balkh's attorney general's office in April, killing 19 people and wounding more than 60.
People in Need released a statement:
"With deep sorrow we inform that a PIN field office in Zare, Northern Afghanistan, was attacked in the night from 1st to 2nd June. Nine of our national colleagues were killed. Investigation is ongoing, the identity of the attackers is not known. PIN has been working in the area since 2002.
We hereby express our deepest condolences to the families of our colleagues, respect to their work, and we condemn this attack, unprecedented in its brutality. PIN immediately suspends all work in Afghanistan and is adopting measures to strengthen the security of its employees in the country."