(Photo: AP Images / Serve Afghanistan, Ho)
A British Christian aid worker murdered in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul last week has been laid to rest.
The funeral of Gayle Williams, 34, was held in Kabul’s British cemetery on Sunday. The ceremony was joined by around 50 expatriates, including mother Pat and sister Karen, as well as the British Deputy Head of Mission Andrew Patrick and Vice-Consul Laurence Jenkins.
Williams was shot dead last week as she walked to the offices of Serve Afghanistan, the organization she had spent the last few years volunteering for.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for her death, saying it had killed her because she was spreading Christianity.
During the funeral Sunday, mourners heard a reading of Williams’ favorite Psalm, Psalm 84, and joined in singing hymns. Afghan police stood guard nearby and streets were sealed off to prevent traffic passing close to the cemetery.
The leader of the funeral declined to be named out of concerns for security. He was quoted by the BBC as describing Williams as “a delightful young woman who loved life.”
“[A]nd she had that life cruelly cut short,” he continued.
“Two armed men gunned down a young, defenseless girl. It is hard to see this as anything other than a cowardly act that brings shame on the people who carried out this murder. And it brings shame and guilt on those that inspired them to do it.”
A colleague at Serve Afghanistan said Williams had “a positive perspective on life and through her joyfulness many heavy clouds were lifted.”
“She was a joyful and courageous woman,” the colleague was quoted as saying. “We lost a dear co-worker and we loved her.”
Williams’ family later visited the presidential palace at the invitation of President Hamid Karzai.
Serve Afghanistan has halted operations in the country following Williams’ death, and is one of many aid agencies in the region reviewing security and future operations.
The U.K.-registered Christian charity has been working with Afghan refugees since 1980 in Pakistan and gradually moved both its project work and its head office into Afghanistan itself. In 2005 Serve provided full-time paid employment to over 200 Afghan nationals