More than 60, including aid worker, killed across Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Oct 20, 2008 - More than 60 people, including civilians, were killed in separate security incidents across Afghanistan. Taliban insurgents gunned down a British female aid worker in the capital, Kabul, on Monday (October 20). Gayle Williams, 34, a dual British and South African national working for the UK-based Christian aid agency Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises (SERVE), was gunned down by Taliban militants on a motorbike as she was walking to work. The Taliban, who claimed responsibility for Williams' killing, accused her of spreading Christianity. Rina van der Ende, a spokeswoman for SERVE, denied the group had been involved in preaching. Also on Monday, a suicide bomber struck a convoy of NATO troops in Chardara district in the northern province of Kunduz, killing two soldiers and five children. Mohammad Omar, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the fallen soldiers were German from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). An ISAF spokesman reportedly acknowledged that there had been fatalities, but declined to identify the soldiers or their nationalities. ISAF troops backed by close air support killed at least 20 suspected Taliban insurgents during a two-day security operation in Jalrez district in central Maydan Wardak province on Thursday (October 16), said an ISAF statement on Monday. Unidentified gunmen killed four people, including a district police chief, in an ambush on a police vehicle in Gorziwan district in northern Faryab province on Monday, Reuters reported. On Sunday evening (October 19), Afghan and international forces killed 34 Taliban militants in a security operation south of Lashkar Gah, the capital of southern Helmand province. Three militants were killed elsewhere in Helmand in two separate operations on Saturday (October 18) and Sunday. Local authorities said on Monday that Taliban militants have killed as many as 40 passengers of a bus that they hijacked in Maywand district in Helmand on Thursday. Authorities discovered six beheaded bodies on Sunday. Yousuf Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, claimed the seized bus was carrying Afghan National Army reinforcements to Helmand. He said 27 on board were killed. These incidents underscore the persistent insecurity across the country that in recent weeks has been spreading to the provinces surrounding Kabul.