Knoxville relief worker among dead after Afghan ambush

Knoxville relief worker among dead after Afghan ambush

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Cheryl Beckett Cheryl Beckett

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville woman was killed last week when her group was ambushed in Afghanistan.

Cheryl Beckett, 32, was among a group of 10 relief workers with International Assistance Mission when they were ambushed and massacred in Badakhshan Province, a remote area of northern Afghanistan.

Beckett is the daughter of Pastor Charles Beckett, of Knoxville's Woodlawn Christian Church.

A statement was released Sunday by the church: 

"Cheryl loved and respected the Afghan people. She denied herself many freedoms in order to abide by Afghan law and custom. Her international co-workers and the Afghan Nationals with whom she served loved her. She was honored to be included in this most recent three week medical journey to the remote populations of Northern Afghanistan... Those who committed this act of terror should feel the utter shame and disgust that humanity feels for them. We share this pain with those who continue the difficult and dangerous work to which Cheryl committed her life. We, as a family, will continue to love and pray for the Afghan people. We pray that Cheryl's life and work will inspire existing and future ministries of mercy to press on."

Five other Americans were among the 10 killed. Taliban militants have taken credit for the massacre.

The International Assistance Mission is a nonprofit Christian organization providing health services to the Afghan people. Officials said the group was headed back to Kabul when they were killed.

Beckett was working as a humanitarian worker with the international non-government organization, Amy Bliss, with Woodlawn Christian Church, told 6 News.

"She's been involved in community development focusing on nutritional gardening and mother's/child health," Bliss said.

A Taliban spokesperson accused the eight foreigners and two Afghan workers traveling with them of spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity. International Assistance Mission has denied those claims, stating that the organization is a Christian development organization, not missionaries.

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