Eight foreign medical workers killed in Afghanistan

Sat Aug 7, 2010 4:42pm EDT
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By Hamid Shalizi and Yousuf Azimi

KABUL (Reuters) - Gunmen killed 10 medical workers, including eight foreigners, in Afghanistan's remote northeast, police and officials said on Saturday, and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Christian aid group said those killed matched descriptions of members of one of its mobile eye clinics who had been traveling in northeastern Nuristan province and were heading back to Kabul after providing medical care for local Afghans.

Dirk Frans, executive director of the International Assistance Mission (IAM), said the group had been told the bodies of eight foreigners -- five men and three women -- and two Afghans had been recovered.

The 12-member team had consisted of six U.S. nationals, one British citizen, a German and four Afghans. Two Afghan staff members had escaped alive, Frans told Reuters. IAM had last had contact with the team's leader on Wednesday.

Aqa Noor Kentuz, the police chief for Badakshan province, said the "bullet-riddled" bodies were found early on Saturday.

He said they had been camping near dense forest on a tour of Nuristan and neighboring Badakshan when they were attacked. Travel documents were found near their bodies, he said.

"Before their travel we warned them not to tour near jungles in Nuristan but they said they were doctors and no one was going to hurt them," Kentuz said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings and accused the medical workers of proselytizing Christianity.   Continued...