Afghanistan: Gruesome murder of three women a warning to aid workers
KABUL, 3 May (IRIN) - Female aid workers in Pul-e-Khumri city in the northeastern province of Baghlan province have been advised to stay at home after three women were found hanged by the neck on Monday morning in the centre of the city. The bodies had a letter attached threatening women working for foreign aid organisations, according to local sources.
One of the three was identified as being involved with the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and the second was a local civil servant. The third remains unidentified according to Baghlan deputy governor, Daulat Mohammad Rafee, who spoke to IRIN from Pul-e-Khumri on Tuesday.
Mohammad Hassan Hairan, Baghlan's provincial spokesman, told IRIN on Tuesday from Pul-e-Khumri that a new group called Junbish Jawanan Islam (the Islamic youth convention) had claimed responsibility for the murders.
"But this is not yet officially confirmed," he said. "The perpetrators were the enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan. The investigation is going on but we do not know yet who is behind the killing."
Aid workers in Baghlan were shocked at the killings. Pul-e-Khumri has a reputation as a safe city and has not experienced the insurgent attacks common in Afghanistan's southern provinces.
"They had written on the bodies of the three women that it was a lesson for other women," an aid worker in the city who wished to remain anonymous, told IRIN. She added that most female aid and development workers in the city had been told by their organisations to remain at home or refrain from field visits until further notice.
More than twenty foreign and Afghan aid workers were killed in insurgent attacks in 2004.
"Once again, the easiest and weakest are targeted. This is the most basic form of vigilantism, where a few have acted in judgment and execution," Nick Downie, coordinator of the Afghan NGO Security Office (ANSO) told IRIN in Kabul.
"Alive or dead, these people could not defend themselves. The humanitarian community should be concerned for the safety of its national staff and their beneficiaries," Downie noted.
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