Tributes to aid worker killed by Taliban

A DEVASTATED family last night paid tribute to a 40-year-old woman brutally gunned down by Taliban soldiers.

Dave Gooderham

A DEVASTATED family last night paid tribute to a 40-year-old woman brutally gunned down by Taliban soldiers.

Humanitarian aid worker, Dr Jacqueline Kirk, and three colleagues were killed in cold blood after they were ambushed in the Logar province of Afghanistan.

Her father, Brian Aket , a former Suffolk school headteacher, branded his eldest daughter's killers “evil” as he paid tribute to her work in helping thousands of people recover from danger zones.

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While describing the attack as “random”, the family are convinced the killers knew she was an unarmed aid worker.

Mr Aket said: “It was a marked car containing three unarmed women - how can anyone be so callous? There is no accounting for the evil of certain people.

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“We can console ourselves with the fact that her legacy will be that she taught thousands of women and children throughout the world who have benefited from her work.”

A former pupil at Thurston Upper School, Dr Kirk, 40, was killed on Wednesday morning - just five days after her 16th wedding anniversary.

Speaking after the tragedy, her husband, Andrew, a research scientist, said she had been travelling in a clearly-marked humanitarian vehicle.

Dr Kirk, who had been in Afghanistan to discuss a project helping children with disabilities, died along with fellow workers from the International Rescue Committee - Shirley Case and Nicole Dial - and their driver, Mohammad Aimal. A second driver is currently recuperating in a Kabul hospital having suffered serious wounds.

A joint citizen of Canada, where she lived with her husband, she had helped children disposed by the tsunami in Indonesia and was planning to work with Iraqi refugees in Syria.

Speaking from their home in Norton, near Bury St Edmunds, Mr Aket said “She was an extraordinary young woman who was absolutely passionate and worked tirelessly for people, particularly women and children, all over the world.

“She would often be in war-torn or disaster-torn countries but she would helping to better their lives. We are very proud of that.

“She was so focused, highly intellectual and had a great capacity for hard work. But when she came home to Suffolk, she would just slot back into family life.”

The family now face an anxious wait before they can fly her body back and then hold a funeral in the small Suffolk village.

Mr Aket, a former headteacher at Horringer Court Middle School in Bury, said: “While we are grieving for our own daughter, we have not forgotten that three others were killed in the attack and we grieve equally for them.

“But we would also like to say that however awful the Taliban is, it does not represent the vast majority of people in Afghanistan.

“We know Jacqueline had many friends and was so fulfilled by working with them.”

His wife Ann said: “She had a special relationship with her sisters and their children. We last saw her a few weeks ago in London. It was quite spontaneous but we had a lovely day. She had tremendous passion, drive and such a big smile. That is how I would like to remember her.”

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