Taliban wages war on aid groups
Wednesday's ambush by the militants killed three Western aid workers and their Afghan driver. It's part of an apparent bid to rid Afghanistan of foreign aid workers.
A Wednesday attack that killed three Western aid workers in Afghanistan raises concerns that the Taliban is attempting to force the expulsion of all foreign humanitarian workers from the troubled country.Skip to next paragraph
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"This was the worst attack in many years and is a major escalation of hostilities," says Sayed Rahim Satar, vice chairman of the Afghan NGO Coordinating Bureau.
The assault signals a shift in the Taliban's strategy toward a policy of direct confrontation with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), says Waliullah Rahmani of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies.
"This appears to be the beginning of a new approach," he says, "to surround Kabul and eliminate any foreign or government presence in the area."
Gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying British-Canadian Jacqueline Kirk, Canadian Shirley Case, Trinidadian-American Nicole Dial, and Afghan employees of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a New York-based NGO, in Logar, a province adjacent to Kabul.
The aid workers, who had been helping to establish schools and train teachers in the region, were traveling back from outer provinces to Kabul when the incident occurred.
In response to the killings, the IRC suspended its operations after more than 20 years of work in the country.
Now, aid organizations are warning that if aid workers go, badly needed social services will dry up and cripple the Afghan government, strengthening the Taliban's position.
19 aid workers killed this year
The assault comes during a year of rising violence in general and against aid groups in particular.
Three members of the US-led coalition were killed Thursday by an explosion targeting international troops, said the US-led coalition, which did not immediately release any details.
Nineteen aid workers have been killed this year, a figure that already exceeds the number of aid workers killed in 2007, according to the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), an umbrella group of various Afghan NGOs.
ACBAR reports that NGOs have been attacked 84 times this year and 21 times in July alone.
In April, the Afghan NGO Safety Office reported that attacks against aid organizations jumped nearly fivefold compared with 2007.