|Dr Karen Woo|
Dirk Frans, executive director of IAM, said the organisation had arrived in 1966, under the Afghan king, and remained through the communist coup, Russian invasion, civil war and Taliban regime. Dr Little was expelled by the Taliban in August 2001 after the arrest of eight aid workers for allegedly trying to convert Afghans to Christianity. He returned after the Taliban were toppled.
IAM lost touch with the team on August 4 and the victims were found shot dead near their bullet-riddled 4x4 vehicles on August 6 in forest in the northeast province of Badakhshan.
The party included Dr Karen Woo, 36, a British medic engaged to be married on August 20. The other foreign victims, who all volunteered for the mission which included a 100-mile trek, were: Cheryl Beckett, 32, a translator from Ohio; Daniela Beyer, 35, a German translator; Brian Carderelli, 25, from Pennsylvania, a freelance cameraman, Dr Tom Grams, a dentist, and Glen Lapp, 40, an intensive care nurse from Pennsylvania.
Dr Karen Woo’s fiancé, Mark “Paddy” Smith, told around 100 friends of the victims gathered at a memorial that she would not have wanted them to dwell on her death. “I think she would have wanted us to enjoy ourselves” he told the emotional crowd in Kabul’s secluded British Cemetery on Wednesday evening.
He said: “It’s a great turnout. That’s indicative of the people they were. People who had given a lot to Afghanistan and were prepared to give a lot more. “Karen would just want us to be strong and carry on her work and that’s what we will endeavour to do.” A permanent memorial plaque to the dead will be erected in the cemetery.
Elsewhere, Christians are at the receiving end in North Korea, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and the Middle East. Reports coming out of the reclusive Korea has indicated that 23 members of an underground Church were recently arrested. After a quick trial three of them were executed and the rest sent to labor camp.
In Somalia, Islamist group al-Shabaab has banned three aid groups from carrying out relief work. The militants, with ties to al-Qaeda, accused World Vision, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), and the Swedish aid agency Diakonia of spreading Christianity and ordered them to stop aid work immediately.
Pakistan has been on the boil for long and many Christians have been killed for their faith. The al-Qaeda has also targetted Christians in Saudi Arabia and urged members to kill them. In Indonesia, fear of mob backlash has forced the closure of a Church last week.