Charity group: 6 Americans among 10 killed by militants in remote area of N Afghanistan

By Kathy Gannon, AP
Saturday, August 7, 2010

Medical charity: 6 Americans killed in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — An official with a charity says six Americans and two other foreigners on a medical mission are among 10 people killed by militants in a remote area of northern Afghanistan.

Dirk Frans, director of the International Assistance Mission, says the group was returning to Kabul from an eye facility in Nuristan province when they were killed in Badakhshan province. IAM is a nonprofit Christian organization providing health services to the Afghan people.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in Pakistan that they killed the eight foreigners and two Afghan interpreters because they were spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Two Americans, six other foreigners and two Afghan interpreters were killed by gunmen in an ambush in a remote, forested area of Badakhshan province in northern Afghanistan, a police official said Saturday.

Provincial police chief Gen. Agha Noor Kemtuz said the victims, who had been shot, were found Friday next to three bullet-riddled four-wheel drive vehicles in Kuran Wa Munjan district.

He said one of the Americans was an eye doctor working in Afghanistan. The nationalities of the other six foreigners — three men and three women — has not been confirmed. The two Afghan men were from Bamiyan and Panjshir provinces, Kemtuz said.

The U.S. Embassy said “several American citizens” were among the deceased.

“We cannot confirm any details at this point, but are actively working with local authorities and others to learn more about the identities and nationalities of these individuals,” said Caitlin Hayden, an embassy spokeswoman.

Kemtuz said a third Afghan man, who had been traveling with the group, survived.

“He told me he was shouting and reciting the holy Quran and saying ‘I am Muslim. Don’t kill me,’” Kemtuz said.

Kemtuz said the survivor told him that the group, which had been traveling in Panjshir, Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces, were surrounded by gunman and then attacked. Kemtuz speculated that robbery could have been a motive in the killings.

“We couldn’t find any passports or anything,” he said. “Nothing was left behind.”

Villagers reported seeing foreigners traveling in four-wheeled drive vehicles in the area about 15 days ago, Kemtuz said. About two days ago, villagers told police that they saw the vehicles abandoned and search crews were sent to the area to investigate, he said.

Associated Press Writers Amir Shah and Deb Riechmann in Kabul contributed to this report.

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