October 20, 2008
Taliban Kills Aid Worker
Gayle Williams of SERVE Afghanistan was shot on her way to work for "spreading Christianity."
Taliban soldiers killed a Christian aid worker from South Africa in a drive-by motorcycle shooting. Gayle Williams, 34, had been working for the UK ministry SERVE Afghanistan for two years and had recently moved to Kabul for safety. One of her colleagues found her on the pavement at 8 this morning.
Zabiullah Mujahed, a Taliban spokesman, told The Times "The reason that we killed her was because she was spreading Christianity." The Taliban took credit publicly, "saying on its Web site that it killed the ?foreign woman' for preaching Christianity in the country and adding that it had been following the woman for some time," CNN reported.
SERVE Afghanistan's chairman of the board, Mike Lyth, emphasized to The Times that the organization is not involved in evangelism. "We have a policy of not (preaching Christianity), so she certainly wasn't involved in that. She was only doing missionary work, if that means living a Christian life and helping disabled people. She spoke only a little Pashtun and Farsi."
The Times reports 28 killings of aid workers, 72 kidnappings, and 146 security incidents involving NGOs this year (the 2007 count was 135 for the whole of last year, according to the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office).
The Guardian also spoke to Lyth about the future of SERVE Afghanistan:
Lyth said the charity would now have to take a "long, hard look" at its operations.
"I personally have been very concerned about security for a long time, but we have tried to take all possible measures to reduce the threat."
"We train our people really carefully. We are in daily touch with the security authorities to find out which roads we shouldn't be on, which parts of the country we shouldn't go to."
"Each time something like this happens, you wonder: do you go on exposing people to unnecessary risk? Yet at the same time, you have got the cry of many, many of the Afghans saying, 'Please help us'. You're caught between a rock and a hard place."