Ten members of a medical team were killed by militants in Afghanistan as they returned from administering eye treatment and other health care services to remote northern villages, a spokesman for the team said Saturday.
Dirk Frans, director of the International Assistance Mission, said six Americans, one German, one Briton and two Afghans were part of the team that made the three-week trip to Nuristan province. They drove to the province, left their vehicles and hiked for hours with pack horses over mountainous terrain to reach the Parun valley in the province's northwest.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that they killed the foreigners because they were "spying for the Americans" and "preaching Christianity."
Frans said the International Assistance Mission, the longest serving nongovernmental organization operating in Afghanistan, is registered as a nonprofit Christian organization but does not proselytize.
"This tragedy negatively impacts our ability to continue serving the Afghan people as IAM has been doing since 1966," the charity said in a statement. "We hope it will not stop our work that benefits over a quarter of a million Afghans each year."