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Germany

Aid group plans to stay in Afghanistan despite killings

The International Assistance Mission (IAM) has confirmed that the aid workers killed last week in Afghanistan were volunteers with the Christian organization. One of the victims was a 35-year-old German woman.

People carrying a coffin

The people killed were volunteers

International Assistance Mission director Dirk Frans said at a news conference in Kabul on Monday that the eight foreigners and two local aid workers were on a mission in the northeast of the country when they were killed by gunmen. One Afghan member of the "Nuristan Eye Camp Team" survived.

Frans officially identified the victims as six US nationals, a British and a German citizen and two Afghan men. He identified US team leader Tom Little, who had worked with IAM for decades, and German national Daniela B., a 35-year-old interpreter from Chemnitz in eastern Germany.

No retreat

Frans said his organization, which has worked in the country since 1966, does not intend to withdraw from Afghanistan.

"There were times when the security situation was much worse than it is now," he said. Frans added that the Afghan Interior Ministry planned to investigate the murders in cooperation with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI. Two militant groups have claimed responsibility, while Afghan police believe it may have been a robbery.

Dirk Frans

IAM director Frans: no plans to leave Afghanistan

"The situation in Afghanistan was difficult before the incident, and will be difficult after the incident," according to Mathias Mogge of the German Welthungerhilfe (formerly known as German Agro-Action), which heads the Afghan NGO Safety Office (ANSO). IAM is also a member of ANSO.

"An isolated incident"

Mogge told Deutsche Welle that Welthungerhilfe did not think the incident represented a broader threat to the NGO community as a whole in Afghanistan, but was an isolated incident.

"Nevertheless, the situation is absolutely unpredictable, and such a situation can happen everywhere and at any time," he said.

"When you're working in Afghanistan, you have to very vigilant, and one has to be maybe more flexible than in other countries. But, for the time being, we will not change our security strategy fundamentally." Mogge said staying in close touch with the population but keeping a low profile was the best strategy: no weapons and driving local cars with local plates that were not easily recognizable as NGO vehicles.

Author: Dagmar Breitenbach (dpa/AFP/AP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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