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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