KUNDUZ -- Masked gunmen killed 10 employees of the HALO Trust mine-clearing organisation in Baghlan province, the Interior Affairs Ministry said Wednesday (June 9), blaming the Taliban.
Sixteen others were injured in the Tuesday night ambush, and a spokesman said the toll was likely to rise.
"The Taliban entered a compound of a mine-clearing agency... and started shooting everyone," ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
The presidential palace also blamed the Taliban.
"The Taliban are targeting not only de-mining staff but also mosques, schools, teachers and students," President Ashraf Ghani's office said in a statement, describing the group's attacks as a crime "that has no rational justification".
"The Taliban are targeting de-mining workers because they clear highways, farms and villages of mines and explosives and prevent an increase in civilian casualties by armed groups," the statement said.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied the insurgents were involved.
The raid happened at about 10pm, when dozens of de-miners were relaxing in the HALO compound after a day spent removing ordnance from nearby minefields, around 260km north of Kabul.
"Around 110 men, from local communities in northern Afghanistan, were in the camp," HALO said.
The attackers wore masks, said Baghlan police spokesman Ahmad Jawed Basharat.
He said casualty statistics of this incident are preliminary and could rise, Khaama Press reported.
A survivor of Tuesday's attack said five or six armed men scaled the compound walls and gathered everyone together before asking if there were any Hazara present.
Afghanistan's Shia Hazara community is often targeted by extremists from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
"Nobody responded," said the survivor, who was wounded and asked not to be identified.
He said the gunmen then asked the compound leader to identify himself, before shooting him.
"Then one of them said, 'Kill them all'," he said.
"As they opened fire, we all tried to escape. Some were killed, and some, like me, were wounded."
Baghlan province has seen fierce fighting in recent months, with near-daily battles between the Taliban and government forces.
In several districts where fighting has been intense, the insurgents have planted roadside bombs and mines to target government forces, but the explosives often kill and wound civilians.
Afghanistan was already one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, a legacy of decades of conflict.
The HALO Trust was founded in 1988 specifically to tackle ordnance left following the nearly 10-year-long Soviet occupation.
The organisation's website says it has an Afghan workforce of more than 2,600 and has removed land mines from almost 80% of the country's recorded minefields and battlefields.
UN Resident Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov condemned the "heinous attack" on HALO workers.
"It is repugnant that an organisation that works to clear land mines and other explosives and better the lives of vulnerable people could be targeted," he said.