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Ten members of an international medical team have been killed while returning from providing eye treatments, and other health care services, in remote villages in northern Afghanistan. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the deaths.
The 10 victims were part of a medical team supported by the International Assistance Mission. The group was attacked as it returned to Kabul after a two-week mission in Nuristan.
Dirk Frans, director pf Internationa; Assistance Mission Charity Organization, said, "Then on Friday, we got the news from the local authorities, the police in particular, that 10 bodies had been found, eight foreigners and two Afghans."
Local police describe the incident as a robbery.
But the Taliban released a message in Pakistan saying it killed the foreigners because they were "spying for the Americans" and "preaching Christianity."
The head of the International Assistance Mission says his organization is registered as a non-profit Christian organization, but does not try to spread the religion.
Dirk Frans said, "As to us spreading Christianity, that is simply not true. We are a Christian agency, we are registered as such, in fact we have been registered as such from the very beginning, since 1966. The Taliban knew we were a Christian agency."
Frans adds that the team had no weapons, and none of its members were security related.
In addition to the two Afghan victims, five of the Americans were men, while one was a woman. The Briton and German also were women.
Formal identification of the 10 bodies was yet to be completed. The agency hopes the tragedy will not stop its work, which benefits more than a quarter of a million Afghans each year.