By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife with reporting from Afghanistan
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BosNewsLife) -- The Islamic militant group Taliban said Monday, October 20, its gunmen killed a Christian aid worker in the capital Kabul because she was spreading Christianity in Afghanstan.
The Christian aid group 'SERVE - Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises - Afghanistan' identified the woman as 34-year-old Gayle Williams. Interior Ministry officials and SERVE Afghanistan said the dual South African-British national, who worked with handicapped Afghans, was killed by gunmen on a motor cycle.
In a statement monitored by BosNewsLife, SERVE Afghanistan explained that the young woman was killed while walking to work at around 0800 local time Monday, October 20.
"Gayle was shot and killed shortly before she was due to arrive at the office. Reports say that two men on a motorcycle shot her and then fled the scene," the group added. SERVE Afghanistan said she died "almost immediately" after the attack.
In published remarks, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid defended the decision to kill her. "This woman came to Afghanistan to teach Christianity to the people of Afghanistan," he said. "Our (leaders) issued a decree to kill this woman. This morning our people killed her in Kabul."
SERVE Afghanistan strongly denied she was involved in proselytizing, which is prohibited by law in the country, or forcing people to convert to Christianity. "She was a person who always loved the Afghans and was dedicated to serving those who are disabled. Needless to say we are all in shock," the group said.
Williams was in "one of the most difficult places for a young woman to work in the world,"Gayle Williams has died. She was 34 and "will be remembered as one of the inspiring people...who truly put others before herself," her friends and family said.
"She was killed violently while caring for the most forgotten people in the world; the poor and the disabled." However, the highly trained fitness instructor, "was where she wanted to be â€“ holding out a helping hand to those in need," SERVE Afghanistan stressed.
SERVE Afghanistan, a Christian charity registered in Britain, has been working with Afghan refugees since 1980 in Pakistan and gradually moved both its project and head office into Afghanistan itself.
Williams' murder has underscored the dangers faced by Christian missionaries and aid workers in Afghanistan. Last year, the Taliban killed two South Korean Christian men. They were were part of a group of 23 evangelical aid workers from South Korea, who were kidnapped in July, 2007, by Taliban gunmen on a highway in central Afghanistan.
The remaining Christians were later released after weeks of tense negotiations between the militants and South Korean government representatives. Five international aid workers have been killed so far this year. The bloodiest attack took place in August, when Taliban militants reportedly killed three aid workers and their driver.
Afghan civilians have also been targeted. In one of the latest incidents, Afghan authorities said five children died in a suicide attack on a German convoy in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz Monday, October 20, and two members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
Earlier, Afghan officials said Taliban insurgents killed some 30 people Thursday, October 16, including a child, traveling on two buses in southern Kandahar province.
The Taliban said it was responsible for the deaths of 27 people, who it claimed were "all Afghan soldiers." However, Afghanistan's Defense Ministry spokesman, General Zahir Azimi, told reporters there were no soldiers on board the buses.
At least 3,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year, nearly half of them civilians, according to United Nations estimates.
International forces and Afghan troops have been fighting militants sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida terror network for the past seven years, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has admitted more troops are needed to win the battle.
Copyright 2008 BosNewsLife. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without our prior written consent.