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Taliban Denies Killing Coal Miners In Northern Afghanistan

A coal mine in Baghlan Province.

The Taliban has denied responsibility for the killing of eight coal miners in northern Afghanistan.

Faiz Mohammad Amiri, the district governor of Tala wa Barfak, in Baghlan Province, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that unidentified gunmen killed eight miners and wounded three others on January 6.

Amiri said the miners, who all came from Bamiyan Province in central Afghanistan and were members of the Shi'ite Hazara minority, had been pulled out of a vehicle and shot.

Tala wa Barfak is controlled by the Taliban, but the militants denied responsibility for the attack.

"The people working in this mine had our permission and we had good relations," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. "They hadn't created any problems."

He blamed pro-government militias in the area for the killings.

Amiri said the attack was likely carried out by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has carried out a string of deadly attacks on Shi'ite Muslims in the country.

IS militants were largely confined to the eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, one year ago, but the government says they have greatly expanded their presence since then.

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