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Expelled Foreign Aid Workers Leave Afghanistan - 2001-09-01


The foreign staff of two Christian humanitarian organizations have begun pulling out of Afghanistan, a day after the ruling Taleban ordered their expulsion and closed their offices.

Workers of the international agency Serve and the U.S.-based International Assistance Mission (IAM) were among those deported Saturday.

The Taleban on Friday said all foreign staff of IAM and Serve, which have operations in several Afghan cities, must leave the country within 72 hours. Taleban officials did not give explanations for the expulsions, but said the decision followed what they called "complaints" about the activities of the two organizations.

In recent weeks, the Taleban cracked down on several international aid agencies after eight foreign and 16 Afghan aid workers were arrested for allegedly preaching Christianity.

Taleban officials say the investigation of that case is almost complete and the group will be brought to trial shortly. On Saturday, Taleban authorities allowed the parents of two American aid workers being held to see their daughters for the second time in a week. They were accompanied by a U.S. diplomat.

The penalty for proselytizing in Taleban-ruled Afghanistan is jail and expulsion for foreigners and death for Afghans.

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