Kabul/Amsterdam, June 3, 2004 - The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) deeply mourns the loss of five of its aid workers, who were killed in a brutal attack in Afghanistan yesterday. All five were committed to bringing humanitarian assistance to people in distress.
MSF condemns this cowardly attack in the strongest terms. The killing of humanitarian workers is to be considered a war crime according to International Law.
The MSF workers were killed on Wednesday afternoon in the province of Badghis, in the north west of Afghanistan. The Toyota Landcruiser in which they were traveling was ambushed and shot at from various directions. Grenade shrapnel was also found embedded in the car. The fact that nothing was stolen from the car is clear evidence that this was not a robbery.
The Taliban have reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. MSF can neither confirm nor deny these reports.
MSF has a long history in Afghanistan and started providing medical assistance to the population in 1980. Throughout the years, throughout different phases of conflict, and despite regime changes MSF has stayed in Afghanistan with one objective: to assist the Afghani people suffering from a chronic war. The communities we work for have always accepted MSF's role as an independent humanitarian organization.
This cowardly attack does not only jeopardize the work of independent humanitarian workers, but also the provision of assistance to Afghans in need.
All sections of MSF have suspended activities while we consider how we can continue to offer medical assistance to people in desperate need under these conditions.