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9 People in Need Aid Workers, Guards Killed in Afghanistan

by Alexander Smith and Fazul Rahim /  / Updated 

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Seven aid workers and two security guards were shot dead at a Europe-based group's field office in a remote region of Afghanistan early Tuesday, officials said.

The victims were all Afghan nationals employed by non-governmental organization People in Need, the Prague-based non-profit said in a statement.

Unidentified gunmen stormed the site in the Zare district of northern Balkh province at around 1 a.m. They fatally shot two personnel guarding the compound before entering and killing the aid workers, a provincial government official and the Afghan Ministry of Interior told NBC News.

The victims were eight men and one woman, People in Need spokesman Tomas Urban said. The woman and one of the men were husband and wife, according to provincial government spokesman Ahmad Moneer Farhad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

People in Need announced the news "with deep sorrow" and expressed its "deepest condolences to the families of our colleagues." It said in a statement that the attack was "unprecedented in its brutality."

The group, which has worked in Afghanistan since 2002, said it would suspend its work in the country and adopt new measures to improve the security of its employees in the country.

The workers killed in the attack had been part of a joint project with Afghanistan's Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.

Alexander Smith reported from London.

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