British woman aid worker killed in Afghan capital

A002688613.jpgKABUL (Reuters) – Two Taliban gunmen on a motorcycle killed a British woman aid worker in the Afghan capital on Monday, accusing her of spreading Christian propaganda.

Taliban insurgents have increasingly targeted aid workers this year in their campaign to spread an atmosphere of fear and undermine claims by the Afghan government and its Western backers that they are bringing security to the war-ravaged nation.

“She was walking to work this morning. There were two people on a motorcycle. They got off the motorcycle and shot her and then went away on the motorcycle. She was dead pretty soon afterwards,” said Mark Lyth, the board chairman of SERVE Afghanistan, the aid agency which employed the woman.

“We have no possible motivation for this other than, I suppose, what’s happening in Afghanistan at the moment. I can only guess it was part of the Taliban offensive,” he told Reuters by telephone from Britain.

SERVE Afghanistan is a British-based Christian aid organization that focuses on community development and education and vocational training for people with disabilities.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. “We killed her for spreading Christian propaganda,” Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the militant group, told Reuters by telephone.

The British Foreign Office named the woman as Gayle Williams. The British embassy in Kabul said it was still checking if Williams was also of South African origin or had dual South African citizenship, a spokeswoman said.

Afghan officials said the woman was from South Africa.

More than 120 attacks were carried out on aid programs during the first seven months of this year, the United Nations says. As a result 30 aid workers were killed and 92 were abducted.

Taliban insurgents killed three female aid workers and their Afghan driver in an ambush just outside Kabul in August, the bloodiest single attack on foreign humanitarian workers in Afghanistan in recent years.

Rising violence has already forced aid agencies to restrict humanitarian work at a time when drought and high prices are putting more people under pressure.

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