8 Aug 2010

Eight foreign eye doctors shot dead in Afghanistan

3:00 pm on 8 August 2010

The bullet-riddled bodies of eight foreign eye doctors have been discovered in dense forest in northern Afghanistan.

The provincial police chief says the foreigners - believed to be six Americans, one Briton and a German - and two Afghan men were killed in a remote area of Badakhshan province, according to a sole Afghan survivor.

The group of ophthalmologists had been travelling between Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces providing help and treatment for local people and had spent a few nights in the forest, according to the man, who was released without being hurt.

He says they were confronted by a group of armed men who lined them up and shot them. The survivor says their money and belongings were all stolen and he was spared because he is a Muslim.

The Taliban says it carried out the killings because the foreigners were spreading Christianity and were spying for America, but local police said bandits were most likely responsible for the shootings.

The BBC reports the foreigners were working for a charity, the International Assistance Mission, which provides eye care and medical help.