ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An American aid worker overseeing a high-profile U.S. development program for Pakistan's tribal area was gunned down Wednesday in the northwest city of Peshawar in what's thought to be the first targeted killing of a Westerner in the current campaign of violence by Islamic extremists.
Stephen D. Vance, a contractor to the government development agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, was shot dead along with his Pakistani driver on his way from his home to his office. He was living in Peshawar with his wife and five children.
An armored car saved Lynne Tracy, a U.S. diplomat whose vehicle was attacked in Peshawar in August, but Vance didn't have one. Islamic militants are thought to have attacked Tracy and Vance.
Vance, 52, was a native Californian, with relatives in Santa Cruz. He arrived in Peshawar when the project began six months ago, according to an official of the company for which Vance worked, CHF International, a major international-development organization in Silver Spring, Md.
The ambush occurred close to Vance's office and the city's American Club, on a narrow street in an upscale residential part of the city known as University Town. U.S. diplomats and USAID staff aren't allowed to have their families in Pakistan for security reasons. However, as a contractor to USAID, Vance lived a less protected life.
Vance worked on a flagship $150-million U.S. aid program for the militancy-plagued tribal area which runs alongside the Afghan border. His "livelihoods" project sought to create job opportunities for people in the tribal belt, especially in Waziristan, a dirt-poor region where many have joined the Taliban and other extremist groups simply for the money.
A former colleague, Homira Nassery, told McClatchy Newspapers: "This hurts bad. Stephen Vance was one of the best bosses I've ever had and deeply committed to delivering services to the poorest of the poor. And these are the thugs we're going to negotiate with?"