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Germany

Germany condemns aid worker killings in Afghanistan

The German government has expressed outrage over the killing of a medical team in northeastern Afghanistan. One of the victims was a 35-year-old German woman.

Relatives carry the body of one of two Afghans killed in northern Afghanistan from the morgue in Kabul

Bodies were flown to Kabul for formal identification

The German government has condemned last week's killing of a group of medical workers in northern Afghanistan.

The bullet-ridden bodies of six Americans, a German woman, a Briton and two Afghans were found in a remote area of the northeastern province of Badakhshan on Friday.

The bodies have since been flown to the Afghan capital Kabul for formal identification. Authorities in Berlin have given more details about the German victim of the attack. The 35-year-old woman from Chemnitz, in the eastern state of Saxony, has been identified as translator Daniela B..

The US embassy in Kabul said on Sunday that six of the slain aid workers in northern Afghanistan were identified by a forensic investigation as US nationals.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the killings as a "senseless act" against "heroic, generous people."

The victims were part of a 12-member medical team working for a Christian charity called the International Assistance Mission (IAM). They were mainly involved in providing eye care in remote regions.

'Bad setback'

Juergen Trittin of the Green Party

Trittin said the attack showed the volatility of the situation in Afghanistan

Politicians in Germany have been quick to condemn the attack. The government called for a "thorough clarification of such a cowardly murder."

Juergen Trittin , the head of the parliamentary faction of Germany's opposition Green party, echoed the anger of his political rivals.

"It's shocking that even people who clearly have nothing to do with the military, doctors who were helping people, have become the target of such an attack. That shows how unstable the situation is in Afghanistan today," he said.

Ulrich Post, head of the umbrella aid group Venro in Germany described the attack as a "really bad setback" for humanitarian work in Afghanistan.

It was "already very difficult to recruit qualified personnel for aid missions in Afghanistan," Post told German newspaper Hannoversche Allgemeine.

"Now it will be even more difficult," he said.

Sam Zarifi from the human rights organization Amnesty International echoed the view.

"Certainly, this is one of the worst attacks ever on aid workers in Afghanistan. Keep in mind that at least for the last three decades, it has been basically aid workers who have serviced the Afghan people's basic needs - not the Afghan government or foreign governments," Zarifi said in an interview with the BBC.

A man walks out of the International Assistance Mission office in Kabul

International Assistance Mission has denied trying to convert Muslims to Christianity

Groups denies it tried to convert people

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, accusing the victims of being spies and Christian missionaries. They said the charity had been seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity, a charge which Dirk Frans, executive director of IAM, has strongly denied.

"The accusation is completely baseless. They were not carrying any bibles except maybe their personal bibles," Frans told news agency Reuters. "As an organization we are not involved in proselytizing at all.

"I like people who stand for a cause, but I think you really need to reflect on what you're communicating to people - and this would be my suggestion to the Taliban. Think about what you're doing. Is this the best way of serving God?" he said.

Abdullah Abdullah, a senior Afghan politician and former presidential candidate who trained as an eye surgeon with one of the medical workers, also dismissed the Taliban's claims as "ridiculous."

Police investigating driver

The driver of the convoy in which the medical workers were traveling was arrested on Sunday. Police said he was being questioned as part of investigations into the killings.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the US-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001. June was the deadliest month of the war for foreign forces, with over 100 killed.

Deaths of civilians have also risen dramatically, according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). They said 1,325 civilians died in the first seven months of 2010.

Author: Joanna Impey, Darren Mara (AP/dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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