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The slain aid worker belonged to a group that helps rebuild rural infrastructure in AfghanistanImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Aid Workers Targeted

DW staff (nda)
March 8, 2007

Unknown gunmen shot dead a German aid worker in northern Afghanistan Thursday after letting three Afghans he was travelling with go free, Afghan officials said.


The death of the German aid worker was confirmed by German aid group, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe or German Agro Action later on Thursday. The group had been travelling by vehicle to assess newly built schools and bridges, a media officer in Berlin said.

Another worker was wounded Friday when the two were attacked in Sar-e-Pul province in northern Afghanistan. According to German military officials, the worker was killed when two vehicles of the aid organization, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe came under fire.

The group was stopped by armed men, governor Sayed Iqbal Munib told AFP. "They were threatened and the Afghans were released. They kept the German national and he was killed later." The Afghans were also robbed.

The Afghan interior ministry confirmed that a German had been shot dead in the area.

"This is the work of bandits not Taliban," spokesman Zemarai
Bashary said in Kabul. "Police have launched a heavy search in the area to find the bandits."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier strongly
condemned the attack.

"The German government will do everything possible to establish
the circumstances of this terrible crime and to see to it that those
responsible are brought to justice," he said from Brussels.

Criminal not ideological motive

The Taliban are waging an insurgency that is focused on southern
and eastern Afghanistan. An Italian journalist and two Afghan
colleagues have been held by Taliban fighters since Sunday and are
accused of being spies.

This is the first time a German aid worker has been killed since the Taliban were ousted from power in Afghanistan in late 2001.

Afghanistan, Polizisten untersuchen den Wagen der getöteten Journalisten
DW's Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe were killed in 2006Image: AP

Swedish troops were on the way to the scene with a medical team and reinforcements. There was no clear motive for the attack, which happened in an area with low Taliban activity. But armed criminal gangs are a problem in the north of the country.

In 2004, five aid workers from the medical relief organization Medecins sans Frontieres were murdered in north-western Afghanistan.

Last year, two German journalists from Deutsche Welle were killed in Afghanistan by unknown assailants.

German aid organization, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe whose employee was killed on Thursday, says it's been working in the region since 1980.

Since 2003, the group has been focusing on rebuilding rural infrastructure, securing food supplies, protecting the environment and strengthening civil society groups as part of a national reconstruction program initiated by the Afghan government. The group is also involved in projects to secure the supply of water in northern Afghanistan.

Suicide attack targets ISAF convoy in south

Meanwhile, five Afghan civilians, including three children, were injured in a suicide attack on a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan Thursday. The majority of the ISAF forces stationed in the southern region are British, Dutch and Canadian soldiers.

Vehicles of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were targeted as they passed through the Mirwais Mena area by the city of Kandahar, the Kandahar province governor Esmatullah Alizai told dpa.

"At 5:30pm a suicide bomber driving a van loaded with explosives detonated his vehicle near ISAF forces, killing himself and wounding five bystanders, including three children,' Alizai said.

ISAF spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Maria Carl confirmed a vehicle was used to attack a military convoy in the province but said no servicemen were harmed.

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