Three women in medical team murdered by Taliban
Ten members of a medical team, including three women, were shot and killed by militants as they were returning from providing eye treatment and other healthcare in remote villages of northern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the team said yesterday.
Dirk Frans, director of the International Assistance Mission, said six Americans, one German, one Briton, and two Afghans were part of the team that made the two-week trip to Nuristan province.
They drove to the province, left their vehicles and hiked for hours over mountainous terrain to reach Parun valley in the province's north-west.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said that they killed the foreigners because they were "spying for the Americans" and "preaching Christianity".
Mr Frans said the International Assistance Mission (IAM) is registered as a non-profit Christian organisation but it does not proselytise.
"This tragedy negatively impacts our ability to continue serving the Afghan people as IAM has been doing since 1966," said a statement released by the charity.
"We hope it will not stop our work that benefits over a quarter of a million Afghans each year."
The team, made up of doctors, nurses and logistics personnel, was attacked as it was returning to Kabul following a two-week mission in Nuristan, Mr Frans said. They had decided to travel through Badakhshan because they thought that would be the safest route, Mr Frans said.
Among the dead was team leader Tom Little, who was expelled by the Taliban government in August 2001 for allegedly trying to convert Afghans to Christianity.
Local police said about 10 gunmen robbed them and killed the workers one by one.