Gunmen kill two Finnish women in western Afghanistan

The International Assistance Mission, a Christian medical charity said the aid workers shot dead by unidentified gunmen while travelling in a taxi were their employees.

By (AFP)

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Published: Thu 24 Jul 2014, 7:38 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:08 AM

Two Finnish female aid workers were shot dead by unidentified gunmen while travelling in a taxi in western Afghanistan on Thursday, officials said, the latest killings in a recent spate of attacks on foreigners.

It came as Afghanistan undertakes a massive audit of its recently concluded presidential vote to avert an impasse threatening to plunge the country into an ethnic conflict as foreign troops prepare to depart after more than a decade of war.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killings in Herat city, but the Christian medical charity the women worked for was targeted by the Taleban four years ago in an attack that killed eight foreigners. The militants claimed at the time the medics were “missionaries”.

Sayed Fazullah Wahidy, governor of Herat province, said: “This morning at around 11.30am (0700 GMT) gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire at two foreigners riding in a taxi and killed them.”

Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed the attack and said the perpetrators had escaped.

“One person was detained at the scene but the two gunmen escaped and the police are searching the area,” he said.

Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto later condemned the “barbaric” shootings.

“The Finnish women’s barbaric fate touches us all. The act is particularly shocking because the women were in Afghanistan to help the local population,” he said.

“The murderer or murderers must be held accountable for their actions. I call on the Afghan authorities to make every effort to identify the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice,” he continued.

The International Assistance Mission, a Christian medical charity said the victims were their employees.

“With deep sadness we confirm that today... two Finnish expatriate female staff members of IAM have been killed in Herat,” said a statement signed by the group’s acting executive director Heini Makila.

Foreigners have increasingly become victims of violence in recent months raising questions over whether it is a new Taleban tactic, a series of random incidents or rising xenophobia.

Aid workers, particularly those working for Christian non-government organisations, have also come under fire since the US-led invasion to oust the Taleban in 2001.

Last month, an Indian aid worker for a Christian charity was abducted in the same province.

Thursday’s shootings came hours after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-packed motorcycle in northern Takhar province, killing six civilians and wounding more than 20 in a crowded market as shoppers bought supplies for the upcoming Eid Al Fitr.

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