A Western team of Christian medical volunteers that provided eye care to poor villagers in remote northeast Afghanistan was lined up, stripped, and shot to death by the Taliban.
Monsters. Evil monsters.
Via the Christian Science Monitor:
The execution-style killings of 10 people working for a Christian medical team in a remote region of northern Afghanistan fit into Taliban insurgents’ stated shift in tactics: Target Western civilians, especially Christians, as “foreign invaders.”
The Taliban took credit for one of the deadliest attacks yet on aid workers in Afghanistan, saying the Christian charity workers were proselytizing to poor villagers – a charge that the International Assistance Mission, which dispatched the team, denies.
The bodies of six Americans, a Briton, a German, and two Afghan interpreters were discovered Friday in a forested part of Badakhshan Province in remote northern Afghanistan – until now considered a relatively peaceful region known mostly to adventure travelers. The only person in the party not killed was a local translator who offered proof he was a Muslim by quoting the Koran, according to the Associated Press.
The attack represents the largest single toll of American civilian deaths in Afghanistan since December, when a suicide bomber killed seven members of a CIA team. It also points to the operational viability of Taliban insurgents’ stated intent to target foreign aid workers as combatants.
Via BBC, the Taliban spokesman crowed: “They were Christian missionaries and we killed them all.”
Via the NYT, more on the murder victims, including the six American doctors:
Tom Little raised three daughters with his wife in Afghanistan, avoided kidnappings during the Russian occupation, hid in his basement for months during the Taliban rule in the 1990s, survived rocket attacks and endured arrests for one reason, friends and family members said: to provide eye care for indigent Afghans.
After four decades in the country he came to call home, Mr. Little, a 61-year-old optometrist originally from upstate New York, was returning from treating people in a remote valley in Nuristan Province when he was among the 10 aid workers ambushed in the woods and killed.
Another was Dr. Karen Woo, a 36-year-old surgeon from Hertfordshire, England, who specialized in women’s health. She had blogged about being a tomboy who loved “sexy dresses and high heels,” as well as her passion to help Afghan people.
And even more on Dr. Little’s mission:
Tom Little never sugar-coated the outreach work he and wife, Libby, did in Afghanistan.
When he spoke to friends from the Capital Region churches who supported the efforts of the NOOR Eye Project, he talked about how his three daughters grew up being able to tell the difference between incoming and outgoing missiles by listening from the basement of their Kabul home.
And he talked about once having the doors of an eye clinic he supervised locked by government officials. He had to creep into the clinic at night to retrieve some of the expensive medical equipment, placing it at a new site so he could continue to provide desperately needed care, just as he had done for more than 30 years.
Little, a 61-year-old optometrist who maintains a residence in Delmar with his wife, Libby, and was originally from the Kinderhook area, was one of 10 members of the Christian-sponsored medical team murdered in Afghanistan last week. The Taliban has taken responsibility for their deaths, alleging the volunteers were spying and trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Support the International Assistance Mission here.
Must-read backgrounder from Bill Roggio at Long War Journal.
One of the slain Americans was Colorado dentist Tom Grams:
A 51-year-old Colorado dentist was among 10 members of a medical team gunned down in Afghanistan earlier this week, a nonprofit dental group said Sunday.
Dr. Thomas Grams had quit his dental practice four years ago to work full-time giving impoverished children free dental care in Nepal and Afghanistan, said Katy Shaw of Global Dental Relief, a Denver-based group that sends teams of dentists around the globe.
“This just breaks my heart,” she said…Shaw described Grams Sunday as “a sweetie pie” who was quiet and shy but opened up around children. She said the group got word of his death Saturday.