Aid Worker Gayle Williams Shot Dead In Afganistan By Taliban
KABUL – A female aid worker was shot dead in the Afghan capital yesterday in a killing claimed by the Islamic Taliban which accused her group of “preaching Christianity.”
Gayle Williams, 34, of British and South African nationality, was shot several times as she was walking to work in a western suburb of Kabul, said the SERVE Afghanistan aid organization for which she had been working for 2-years.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the killing of Ms. Williams as well as the deaths of two German soldiers and five children in a suicide attack in the north.
In a statement, he said the murder of Ms. Williams was cowardly and unforgivable.
Ms. Williams, who had been in the troubled country for three years, had recently moved from Kandahar back to Kabul because it was seen as safer.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said Ms. Williams had been shot in the body and leg with a pistol.
“Two armed men sitting on a motorbike shot her dead,” he said.
“Some bullets hit her body and some hit her leg and when police got there she was dead.”
Mr. Bashsary said the attackers had fled immediately and their motive was unclear.
It was not known if they worked for the Taliban, an extremist Islamic militia that has carried out several similar assassinations in the southern city of Kandahar, he said.
But a spokesman for the insurgent group, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed his militia had carried out the assassination.
“We killed her because she was working for an organization which was preaching Christianity in Afghanistan,” he said.
There was no way to confirm this, with the Taliban sometimes claiming incidents when they have no involvement.
SERVE Afghanistan rejected the charge of preaching and said it believed the claim was opportunistic, coming only after it became known that the group was Christianbased.
“We are a Christian organization, we make no bones about that,” said the Londonbased chairman of the board, Mike Lyth.
“But we hav a specific policy against proselytising,” he said.
The charity works with disabled Afghans and Ms. Williams had been helping to integrate people into their communities, he said.
In August, three female foreign aid workers, including two Canadians — Jackie Kirk, 40, of Outremont, Que. and Shirley Case, 30, of Williams Lake, B. C. — were killed in an ambush just south of Kabul.
In recent weeks, there have been three assassinations of prominent Afghans in Kandahar carried out by men on motorbikes.
Yesterday, U. S. General John Craddock, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said NATO members were wavering in their political commitment to Afghanistan.
“And it is this wavering political will that impedes operational progress and brings into question the relevancy of the alliance here in the 21st century,” he said in a speech to policymakers and defence analysts in London.
“We in NATO have the ambition, we have the military capability, but the question is, do we have the will to address these challenges?”
Meanwhile, in a hospital in the southern town of Gereshk in Afghanistan’s Helmand province yesterday, a wounded Afghan teenager described how he had hidden among the corpses of five men shot dead by Taliban after they were accused of being police recruits.
The youngster, known as Shukrullah, said he was among about 40 men pulled off a bus travelling through southern Afghanistan last week and split into smaller groups.
“Taliban made us kneel in a ditch and fired at us. Five other people who were with me died and I survived,” he said.
Police confirmed they had found five bodies after six others were discovered Sunday in Helmand.
They believe around 30 men were killed. The Taliban has claimed to have killed 27.