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22 Oct, 2008 07:08

Taliban killed aid worker for ‘spreading Christianity’

A spokesman for the Taliban has said that it ordered the killing of a British aid worker because she was “spreading Christianity”.

Ms Williams was on her way to work at the Christian NGO Serve Afghanistan when she was shot dead by two Taliban militants on Monday. The case is being investigated by the Afghan National Security Police.

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahed revealed they had been following Ms Williams for a long time.

“We found out that she was spreading Christianity among our people,” he said. “For us this is proof that Ms Williams was inviting Afghans to Christianity. After proof had been given to the Taliban leadership that the aid worker was not innocent, they gave their approval to have her killed.”

He added: “Although it is against Islam to kill women, we have seen NATO forces killing our women and burning our houses in places such as Kandahar and Helmand. If NATO has the right to kill our women, we have the right to kill foreign women. We’ve been pushed to kill Ms Williams.”

A spokesperson for Serve Afghanistan, Rina van der Ende, said her colleagues were devastated and in shock. “We won’t see her working in her office again. It’s all very unreal for us. She was very passionate about her work and loved challenges.”

Ms Williams trained her Afghan colleagues in how to deal with people with disabilities and how to help integrate them into the community. Aware of the security risks involved, Ms Williams had occasionally mentioned that she would like to be buried in Afghanistan.

The body is being kept at a morgue at Kabul University’s medical faculty until her family decide where she will be buried. It has not yet been confirmed whether Ms Williams’ mother and sister will travel to Kabul.

“Looking from their perspective it would be a wise decision to bring closure to the time Ms Williams had spent in Afghanistan,” Ms Van der Ende said.

Ms Van der Ende said that the aid worker had returned with a Serve team from Jalalabad a few days before she was murdered. “I’m not sure whether the Taliban had been trailing her,” she said. “I know Ms Williams was here because of her work, even though Serve is known as a Christian organisation.”

The investigation into Ms Williams’ death continues. A senior police official, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, said the two militants had a collision with a vehicle while being chased by the police. They left the motorbike at the scene of the accident and escaped.

The two men, said to be between the ages of 20 and 30, stashed a back-pack filled with the murder weapon and hand grenades at a water reservoir 500 metres from the police station, close to where Ms Williams was shot. The pistol, which had been manufactured in Pakistan, had a silencer attached to it.

“We are very sorry about what happened to Ms Williams,” the police official said. “It’s wrong that a woman should be killed at her age.” But he added that the aid worker should not have walked to work. “I advise all foreigners in Afghanistan to stay off the streets.”

Lizette Potgieter for RT from Kabul