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Oxfam suspends some Afghan operations

Oxfam has suspended operations in a northeastern Afghan province after two staff members and a community volunteer were killed there last week, the aid agency said.

Oxfam has suspended operations in a northeastern Afghan province after two staff members and a community volunteer were killed there last week, the aid agency said.

The three Afghans were killed on Saturday when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Badakhshan, the province's deputy governor, Shamsul Rahman, said by phone Wednesday.

The province that had been largely free from insurgent attacks but has seen growing violence recently blamed on Taliban units who have moved to the area as part of a strategy of spreading their presence away from their traditional strongholds in the south and along the mountainous border with Pakistan.

Rahman said Taliban insurgents who have recently infiltrated into the area were likely behind the attack in Shahri Buzurg district, about 300 kilometres northeast of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

"We have temporarily suspended operations in Badakhshan and are reviewing all security measures and protocols. At present, Oxfam has no plans to discontinue its work in Afghanistan," the Britain-based group said in a statement issued late Tuesday.

Spokesmen for the group were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

In early August, a group of suspected insurgents in the province murdered 10 members of the International Assistance Mission — six Americans, three Afghans, one German and a Briton — who had spent two weeks giving vision and other medical care to impoverished villagers in neighbouring Nuristan province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the murders, although al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters and the Hizb-i-Islami group under the leadership of warlord and former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar also operate in the area.

Oxfam staffs numerous offices around Afghanistan overseeing projects ranging from distributing livestock, to running schools, providing clean water and advocating for women's rights.

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