Two gunmen killed a foreign aid worker in Kabul on Monday in an unusual drive-by shooting that heightened fears over the worsening security situation in and around the Afghan capital.
Gayle Williams, 34, a dual South African-British national, worked with handicapped Afghans. She was walking to work on Monday when she was killed.
Witnesses and Afghan security officials said two gunmen on a motorcycle drove up to Williams in the Kart-e-Char neighborhood of Kabul and opened fire with automatic weapons.
A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, saying Williams had been targeted because she worked for a Christian aid organization.
"This woman came to Afghanistan to teach Christianity to the people of Afghanistan. Our leaders issued a decree to kill this woman," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
Officials with Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises, the Christian charity organization for which Williams worked, said in a statement, "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."
Residents of the Kart-e-Char neighborhood said Williams was regularly seen walking from her home to her nearby office. A night watchman at a construction site across from the spot where her body was found said it is not uncommon to see foreigners walking or biking in the area.
The number of attacks in Afghanistan on high-profile targets, and foreigners in particular, has risen sharply this year. In August, three foreign aid workers and their Afghan driver were killed after Taliban insurgents strafed their vehicle with gunfire as it was traveling to Kabul from nearby Logar province. The attack on the International Rescue Committee team prompted the organization to temporarily suspend its operations.
Last year a group of 23 South Korean aid workers from a church group were taken hostage in southern Afghanistan. Two were killed and the rest were released. In 2001, eight international aid workers, including two Americans, were imprisoned and charged with preaching Christianity. The eight were freed by Afghan mujahedeen fighters attacking the Taliban after the U.S.-led invasion.
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