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Terrorism & Security

American aid worker killed in Pakistan

Militants' increasingly brazen attacks highlight Pakistan's inability to prevent violence.

By David Montero / November 12, 2008



In Pakistan, an American aid worker was killed Wednesday in the latest round of brazen attacks highlighting both the strength of militants and the Pakistani military's lack of response.

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According to the Associated Press, Stephen Vance was heading to work in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan when he was shot and killed, along with his driver. No one has yet claimed responsibility, though "similar attacks against Pakistani security forces and foreigners have been blamed on al-Qaida- and Taliban-linked fighters, who are increasingly active in the region, which borders Afghanistan."

It (the attack) was obviously well-targeted," said [a] foreign official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to media.
Pockets of the northwest have become safe havens for al-Qaida and Taliban operatives involved in attacks on U.S. and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan as well as rising violence within Pakistan.

Mr. Vance was working to develop the troubled tribal region, the International Herald Tribune reports.

Vance was the director of a "livelihoods" project run by the Cooperative Housing Foundation, which was funded by USAID, they said. Several dozen Americans working on the USAID effort to counter the Taliban by creating jobs and building infrastructure in the tribal areas are based in Peshawar. The city is on the frontline of the tribal area, and serves as something of a rear base for the increasingly powerful Taliban.

The BBC reports that the area used to be safer for foreigners.

[O]ur correspondent says attacks of this kind on foreigners in Pakistan are rare. Across the border in Afghanistan aid workers and other foreigners have increasingly been targeted in recent months.
Gunmen attacked the car of a US diplomat in Peshawar in August, but she survived unhurt....
A number of missile strikes inside Pakistan's tribal areas by US troops based in neighbouring Afghanistan have fuelled anti-American sentiment.
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