A British woman who had been helping the handicapped in Afghanistan has become the latest victim of Taliban violence targeting foreign aid workers in the country. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kabul that Afghanistan's government and aid agencies are vowing that such attacks will not hamper the international effort to rebuild the country.
International officials say assistance programs for Afghanistan should not be undermined by the rising number of attacks on foreign aid workers here.
A worker for the Christian charity, SERVE Afghanistan, was shot dead Monday morning as she walked to her job in suburban Kabul.
Police and diplomatic sources say Gayle Williams, a British national of South African origin working with the disabled, was attacked by gunmen who got off a motorcycle and fired at her numerous times.
The fundamentalist Taliban say they killed the woman because she was working for an organization that was preaching Christianity in the predominately Muslim nation.
Several other Christian charities in the country contacted by VOA News say they intend to maintain a low profile and do not want to comment on how the killing would affect their operations here.
Security groups working with international organizations say attacks on aid workers are at their highest level in six years.
Spokesman Dan McNorton of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan tells VOA News it is too early to say what impact the latest killing in Kabul might have on the operations of foreign aid agencies in the country.
"We are all aware that Afghanistan has seen an increase in security incidents," McNorton said. "And it has become increasingly difficult for humanitarian agencies to work in the country. But most agencies are still here and most agencies are still getting on with their jobs of providing help to the people of Afghanistan."
Three female aid workers and their Afghan driver were ambushed and killed in August by Taliban insurgents. There have also been more than 70 reported abductions of aid workers this year in Afghanistan.
But it is ordinary Afghans who continue to be the primary targets of the increasing violence perpetrated by the Taliban, other rebel groups and criminal gangs.
Kidnappings of wealthy Afghans have become routine. The latest reported abduction: Hamayon Shah Asifi, the influential and wealthy brother-in-law of former King Zahir Shah.
An estimated three thousand Afghans have died due to insurgency-related violence this year
In one of the latest major incidents, Taliban fighters are claiming responsibility for killing about 30 people on two buses in southern Kandahar province last week. The insurgents say they attacked the buses because they were filled with Afghan soldiers. But government officials say those who were killed were all civilians, including a child.
On the battlefront, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force says a two-day battle against militants has left 20 insurgents dead in Maydan Wardak province, where the Taliban have a presence less than 60 kilometers southwest of Kabul.
Countering the rising insurgency, besides the Afghan National Army, are 65,000 international troops - either under the command of NATO or the U.S. military.