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Aid workers' bodies flown to Kabul
Bodies of 10 medical workers killed in a remote area in Afganistan arrive in capital.
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2010 20:43 GMT


Clayton Swisher reports from Kabul on efforts to identify bodies of six aid workers killed by the Taliban

The bodies of 10 medical workers killed by the Taliban have been flown to Kabul, the Afghan capital, after they were recovered in a remote area in northeast Afghanistan.

The Taliban had claimed responsibility for the killings, saying the workers had been carrying Bibles in an Afghan native language and were attempting to promote Christianity.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, condemned the killings on Sunday saying they were a "despicable act of wanton violence". This will not impede the aid inflow into Afganistan by the international community, she added.

A Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) spokesman also slammed the killings, saying: "Isaf is clearly condemning what has happened there. I hope that in the future, with the higher number of Afghan security forces, things like this will not happen again."

Bullet-riddled bodies

The victims, whose bodies were riddled with bullets, included six Americans, a German and two Afghans who were members of the International Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (IAM), a self-described "not-for-profit Christian organisation" that has been offering medical services across the country since the 1960s.

The tenth victim, a British national, worked for the Bridge Afghanistan group.

Both non-profit groups have denied Taliban accusations that their members had been "Christian missionaries".

"She was a humanist and had no religious or political agenda"

Victim's family

"The accusation is completely baseless; they were not carrying any Bibles except maybe their personal Bibles," Dirk Frans, the executive director of IAM, told Reuters. "As an organisation we are not involved in proselytising at all."

The family of the British victim, Karen Woo, also denied that she had been proselytising.

"Her motivation was purely humanitarian. She was a humanist and had no religious or political agenda," the family said in a statement.

General Agha Noor Kemtuz,  Badakhshan province's police chief, had earlier said a third Afghan man, who had been travelling with the group, survived.

"He told me he was shouting and reciting the holy Quran and saying 'I am Muslim. Don't kill me'," Kemtuz said.

Nothing left behind

Kemtuz said the survivor told him that the group, which had been travelling in Panjshir, Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces, were surrounded by armed men before they were attacked.

He speculated that robbery could have been a motive in the killings in the remote Kuran Wa Munjan district.

"We couldn't find any passports or anything," he said. "Nothing was left behind."

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since US-led and Afghan armed groups overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

June was the bloodiest month of the war for foreign forces in Afghanistan, with more than 100 killed.

Deaths of civilians caught in the crossfire have also risen about six per cent in the first seven months of 2010 against the same period last year, according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Source:
Agencies
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