The killing of the 34-year-old woman, who had dual British and South African nationality, added to concerns that more Christians would be targeted in Afghanistan. Reports that a South African and a British man were also killed in the city Saturday, October 25, led to fears Taliban insurgents could target Westerners to scare off aid workers, including Christian missionaries.
The Taliban said in a statement they had killed Williams because she tried to convert Afghanistan’s fiercely conservative Muslim population. However her Christian aid group ‘SERVE – Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises – Afghanistan’ denied the allegations, saying she concentrated on teaching children with disabilities.
"A completely defenceless young woman with a heart of love for the people of Afghanistan, was walking alone to work to care for the people who were defenceless here in this country," said a man leading the service, who declined to be named, in reported comments.
"Two armed men gunned down a young defenceless 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." SERVE Afghanistan said earlier that Williams was in "one of the most difficult places for a young woman to work in the world." However, she "will be remembered as one of the inspiring people…who truly put others before herself,"SERVE Afghanistan added.
Friends revealed that Gayle had asked to be buried in the Christian cemetery in Kabul. Speaking to reporters, her mother Pat Williams said she was “still trying to cope with what happened and it is very hard.”
However she added that, “The only thing that gives me comfort is knowing that she was doing what she loved most when she was taken from us.” Pat Williams said she heard that Gayle was thinking of visiting her family this Christmas. “She did not tell me that so it must have been meant as a surprise. I say to myself that at least Gayle is with Our Lord."
Witnesses said police have begun patrolling the road where Williams lived and the street where she was shot. Regular churchgoers in the same area told reporters they have been warned not to walk outside because of threats against Christians. A coffee shop close to where she was killed, which was popular with Christians, was reportedly closed "until further notice". Staff at the cafe said they did not want Westerners congregating in one place while security was sketchy.
Sayed Ansari, a spokesman for the secret police, told the British Independent newspaper that officials would try to protect Westerners, but he warned: "People need to be vigilant when they leave their homes, especially if they are on foot."
As aid agencies are reviewing the viability of their presence in Afghanistan following her murder, SERVE Afghanistan also made clear it was important to continue helping the Afghan population. “Although recent events have witnessed the collapse of the Taliban regime and a new and renewed hope of peace and stability in the country, there are still many obstacles to overcome along the road to along the road to reconstruction.”
It has encouraged people to join its efforts, but cautioned: “If you are welcomed by an Afghan as a friend then there is no one more hospitable or more committed to your good. If he is your enemy then take care. “