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Iraqis Mourn Loss of Humanitarian Aid Worker


The Iraqi community is in shock over the apparent killing of international aid worker Margaret Hassan. The director of CARE International in Iraq was apparently shot dead by her captors after almost a month of captivity. VOA's Greg LaMotte in Baghdad visited with some of Ms. Hassan's neighbors and co-workers who said the killing of the humanitarian aid worker was senseless.

The next door neighbor of Margaret Hassan, who doesn't want her named revealed, says there is no excuse for the killing of the humanitarian aid worker.

"It was terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. She's just like my sister. We are so, so sad because she is a good woman," the neighbor said.

Margaret Hassan, 59, was kidnapped on October 19 while she was being driven to her office in Baghdad.

A videotape has surfaced in Baghdad that shows a man shooting a blindfolded woman in the head. Officials who have viewed the videotape, say it appears the woman was Ms. Hassan.

The director of CARE International in Iraq had worked for more than 30 years helping Iraqi people.

A sign in front of the aid organization's offices in Baghdad indicates CARE is permanently shutting down its operations in Iraq as the result of Ms. Hassan's death.

One of the organization's workers, Abdullah Rahman, said he is in a state of shock.

Mr. Rahman says Iraqis from north to south need the help Ms. Hassan was providing. He says she helped Iraqis build hospitals and schools. He says Ms. Hassan was the dearest woman he has ever known. And, he says he is sure that whoever killed her, could not possibly have been a Muslim.

CARE International worked with numerous aid agencies in Iraq, including the Red Crescent. The director of communications for the Red Crescent is Abdul Hamid Salim.

He says the closing of CARE International in Iraq is a severe blow to all aid organizations working in the country.

Mr. Salim says it is very regrettable that the CARE offices are closing down. He says he fears this will cause other aid agencies to stay away from Iraq. And, he says as a result, Iraqi citizens will suffer while the terrorists will be able to claim a victory.

Mr. Salim says the Red Crescent has no plans to alter its operations in Iraq, although he says security at Red Crescent offices has been increased as the result of Ms. Hassan's kidnapping.

Ms. Hassan was born in Ireland. She holds British and Iraqi citizenship. Her husband, Tahsin Hassan, has appealed to her kidnappers to reveal the whereabouts of her body so that he can give her, what he called, a peaceful burial.

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