IS militants kill six Red Cross workers in Afghanistan

The massacre recalls the growing threats and dangers facing humanitarians in longer and fragmented wars.

Lotfullah Azizi, the Jowzjan provincial governor, said the aid workers were carrying livestock supplies to areas badly affected by the storm.

No-one immediately claimed the attack but Mr Turkistani said militants loyal to the so-called "Islamic State" group have a presence in the area.

The two extremist groups have battled United States forces, the government in Kabul and each other in Afghanistan, particularly in the north. Factions in the powerful Pakistani Taliban have also defected to Isis following a splintering in the group. "I still can't believe that people would attack Red Cross and ICRC colleagues", Daccord said.

"We need to understand more clearly what happened", ICRC Director of Operations Dominik Stillhart tells the BBC.

Provincial authorities were speaking with local elders to attempt to negotiate the release of the two staff members, officials said.

On Wednesday, the ICRC in a statement called the killing of the six colleagues a "despicable act". "These humanitarian actors are, unfortunately, increasingly subject to attacks".

"We've been in Afghanistan for the past 30 years assisting people in need".

The attack was widely condemned. This is a huge tragedy.

"Devastated by this news out of", ICRC president Peter Maurer said on Twitter about the latest incident.

October: Abomb attack at a Shia mosque in Balkh, neighboring Jowzjan, that killed at least 14.

The head of the Red Cross' Afghanistan delegation, Monica Zanarelli, said it had not decided whether to suspend its operations in the country, saying such a move would be premature.

Earlier on Thursday, an Afghan official said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation drone strikes killed 11 Islamic State militants, including two senior commanders, in the eastern Nangarhar province.

  • Rogelio Becker