Neurologist

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Foreign medical aid workers killed in Afghanistan

The office of the International Assistance Mission in Kabul

Mountainous region of Badakhshan, Afghanistan

Officials say eight foreign medical personnel, including six Americans, one Briton and one German, are among 10 people found shot dead in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killings.

The German government strongly condemned Saturday the murder of 10 aid workers in northern Afghanistan, the majority of whom were foreigners, including one German woman.

“The German government is indignant over the terrible attack,” government spokeswoman Sabine Heimbach said in a statement. The government called for a full inquiry into the “cowardly murder” and for the perpetrators to be punished.

“The incident underlines the necessity to continue working with determination towards stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan, so the Afghan government can increasingly take responsibility for security in the country,” the government said.

The bullet-riddled bodies of the eight foreign medical workers and two Afghans working for an international health charity were discovered in a mountainous, forested area in northern Afghanistan, according to Afghan police.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack on a group they called “Christian missionaries.”

The International Assistance Mission (IAM), a non-profit Christian health organization, said six of the dead were Americans, one was German and one was British. The IAM  provides medical and eye care in remote areas and has been operating in Afghanistan since 1966.

Robbery a likely motive

Dirk Frans, the group’s director, said the team numbered 12, including four Afghans, two of whom were killed. The group, he said, were on their way back to Kabul from an eye facility in Nuristan province near the border with Pakistan.

“They were killed on their way back. They had no guns and no security because we come at the communities’ invitation and they take care of us,” Frans told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

“There have never been any threats against us. If there were threats, we would not have gone,” he said. He said the organization would continue its activities.

Despite the Taliban claim, Frans said police had told him that robbery was the likely motive for the killings. The victims, seven men and three women, had been stripped of all their money and belongings. He denied the Taliban’s claim that the group carried Bibles in the local language Dari.

Nuristan and Badakshan are close to Afghanistan’s porous border with Pakistan

Conflicting information

According to police, an Afghan colleague of the victims who survived the attack walked to a police station in Badakhshan to inform them of the attack.

Police said the attack took place some two weeks ago, but because of the remoteness of the area they were unable to recover the bodies until Thursday.

The information was in apparent conflict with the Taliban’s claims that the attack was on Friday. The Taliban also claimed there were nine foreigners – five men and four women – and one Afghan national.

The survivor, identified only as Sayedullah, said the foreigners worked at a hospital in Kabul.

The victims were reportedly found next to their three four-wheel drive vehicles and had been lined up before they were shot.

A Western official, asking to remain anonymous, said the US embassy was organizing the return of the bodies to Kabul where they would be formally identified.

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August 8, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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