Clinton Condemns Slaying Of Aid Workers

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Anonymous/David L. Evans via AP

Undated photo: Tom Little, right, optometrist and team leader with the International Assistance Mission, watches as an unidentified doctor examines a patient in an Afghanistan clinic.

The secretary of state says the 10 aid workers killed in Afghanistan had been on their way to set up a clinic for dental and maternal care. She said the Taliban led the aid workers into a forest, then robbed and killed them.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Taliban has made false accusations against 10 aid workers found killed in Afghanistan. The Taliban, which has claimed credit for the killings, accuses the group of proselytizing.

Clinton says the aid workers had been treating cataracts and other eye ailments, and were on their way to set up a clinic for dental and maternal care.

In a statement released Sunday, Clinton said the Taliban led the aid workers into a forest, then robbed and killed them. Six of the dead were American.

The Taliban say the aid workers had Bibles in the local Dari language. The Irish-based aid group, International Assistance Mission, calls itself Christian but denies proselytizing.

The group has been in Afghanistan for decades and says it has no intention of pulling out now.

In her statement, Clinton called the killings a "despicable act of wanton violence" that demonstrates the brutality of the Taliban. She said she was heartbroken by the loss of the aid workers, and called their service in providing care to impoverished Afghans "heroic" and "generous."

The 10 were gunned down in the northern province of Badakhshan on Thursday while on a medical mission.

Clinton says the killings will not stop the international community from helping the Afghan people. In recent months, violence in Afghanistan has spiked to its worst level since the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.

This report contains material from The Associated Press. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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