Yemen

Three Baptist Hospital Staff Killed in Yemen
Wounded Pharmacist Survives Attack

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, December 30 (Compass) -- Three American staff of the Jibla
Baptist Hospital in southern Yemen were shot to death and another
seriously wounded on the hospital compound this morning by a lone Yemeni
gunman.

The three medical personnel killed on the spot were hospital
administrator William E. Koehn, 60; obstetrician Dr. Martha C. Myers,
57; and purchasing agent Kathleen A. Gariety, 53. Both Koehn and Myers
had served in the Southern Baptist mission hospital for 24 years or more
and Gariety for the past 10 years.

The attack occurred about 8:30 a.m., at the beginning of the hospital
work day. Without warning an armed attacker burst into a room where the
three Americans were meeting, shooting them all in the head. The gunman
then ran into the pharmacy, where he cornered pharmacist Donald Caswell,
49, and shot him twice in the abdomen.

After surgery in which two bullets were removed, Caswell was reported
stable and expected to recover from his injuries.

According to Associated Press reports, the assailant had smuggled a
semiautomatic rifle past guards as he entered the hospital compound,
bundling the gun under his arm to resemble a small child. He reportedly
got past the gate, the Agence France Press (AFP) said, by saying he was
"visiting a sick relative."

According to Yemen's official news agency, Saba, Interior Ministry
officials identified the assailant as Abed Abdul Razak Kamel. The
gunman, who surrendered to the hospital's security staff and was put
under arrest, was said to be a student in his 30's at the Al-Iman
University, known as a center of Islamist militancy.

Local security sources told the press today that Kamel had told them he
killed the hospital personnel to "cleanse his religion and get closer to
Allah."  The gunman allegedly confessed to membership in an Islamic
jihad group, and that he had been trained in Afghanistan. One Yemeni
official told Reuters that Kamel "said he shot the Americans because
they were preaching Christianity in a Muslim country."

Koehn, from Arlington, Texas, is survived by his wife Marty and two
grown daughters, Janelda and Samantha. Both Dr. Myers, from Montgomery,
Alabama, and Kathleen Gariety, from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, were single.

Caswell and his wife Teresa have three children: a grown son, Jason, and
two younger boys, Thomas and Caleb.

Founded in 1965 by the Southern Baptist Convention's International
Mission Board (IMB), the 80-bed Jibla Hospital treats 40,000 patients
annually in the highland province of Ibb, some 100 miles south of the
capital Sanaa. In cooperation with the Ministry of Health, the hospital
facility has operated under contract with the Yemeni government.

At the end of this year, the administrative and financial
responsibilities of the hospital were slated to be turned over to a
Yemeni charity, the People's Charitable Society, although expatriate IMB
doctors and other medical personnel would continue to help staff the
compound and work with the hospital's extended health-care efforts.

According to Julie Thoma, formerly based at the Jibla Hospital and now
on the Sanaa staff of International Community Services, the shooting was
an "isolated" incident probably linked to long-term preparations to turn
over the American hospital to Yemeni administration. "It was a backlash
against that," Thoma told CNN.

"It's no coincidence with the timing," an expatriate source in Sanaa
told Compass today, "because the keys for the hospital were supposed to
be turned over this morning!"

According to spokesman Larry Cox at IMB headquarters in Richmond,
Virginia, no board decision has been made to relocate other Americans
connected with the hospital. "Such decisions will probably be made on an
individual basis," one of his colleagues told Compass, "in consultation
with Yemeni and U.S. Embassy officials."

Only hours after the tragedy struck, most of Jibla's American personnel
expressed determination to stay on, despite the risks.

"We can't let someone with a gun make us afraid to do what God wants us
to do," IMB staffer Kaye Rock at the Jibla Hospital told the Baptist
Press today. "We're asking people to pray that these deaths will not be
a senseless waste, but that God will complete all He has intended here,
and that He will be glorified."

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