On August 6th, Afghan police discovered the bodies of 10 medical aid workers brutally murdered in the northern Badakhshan Province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for this despicable act of violence, claiming that the International Assistance Mission, a Christian group to which the volunteers belonged, were proselytizing and spying for western military forces. International Assistance Mission denies the charges, and its website states that it does not use aid to further a religious view.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms possible these brutal slayings. The U.S. also condemns the Taliban's attempt to justify the unjustifiable by making false accusations about their activities in Afghanistan.
The slain volunteer medics were in Afghanistan to deliver free medical care to impoverished Afghan villagers. "They were doctors, nurses, and medical technicians, and their mission," said U.S. Secretary of States Hillary Clinton, "was humanitarian and wholly independent from that of any government." Before their deaths, they had spent several days treating cataracts and other eye conditions in Nuristan Province. At their next stop they had planned to run a dental clinic and offer maternal and infant health care. They were unarmed. They were not being paid for their services. They had traveled to this distant part of the world because they wanted to help people in need.
The Taliban's cruelty is well-documented. Its members have assassinated tribal elders and thrown acid in the face of young girls. Earlier this summer, they accused a 7-year old boy of spying and hanged him. With the killing of the aid workers, they have again shown the lengths to which they will go to advance their extremist version of Islam –- a version inconsistent with the peaceful nature of this world faith.
The murdered medical aid workers, as well as volunteers from many nations and the international coalition working to establish stability in Afghanistan, represent exactly what the Taliban stand against: a future of peace, freedom, opportunity, and openness, where all Afghanistan can live and work together in harmony, free from terror. "As we mourn the loss of these aid workers," said Secretary Clinton, "we will continue with our own efforts, inspired by their example."