Aid worker from Michigan killed in Afghan attack

Associated Press

HAMTRAMCK, Mich. (AP) — A Somalia-born woman who came to Michigan for higher education was among the 21 people who were killed in a Taliban attack on a popular restaurant in the Afghan capital of Kabul last week.

Basra Hassan, 59, was working in Afghanistan as a nutrition specialist for UNICEF, a United Nations agency focused on the welfare of children. Another UNICEF staffer, Dr. Nasreen Khan of Pakistan, also died.

Hassan was from the Detroit enclave of Hamtramck. She had a master's degree from Eastern Michigan University.

Hassan joined UNICEF in 2005, Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the group, told The Associated Press on Sunday. Hassan had been working in Afghanistan since May 2010 after serving with the agency in Pakistan, Yemen and in southern Africa.

Hassan and Khan were working "in one of the most dangerous places in the world," and one in which large numbers of children lack basic food needs, Crowe said.

"She was responsible ... for setting up clinics for the treatment and for the surveillance of malnutrition," Crowe said.

Hassan left Somalia for Kenya in the 1990s and then came to the U.S. to study in Michigan, Crowe said.

In Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski said she was reaching out to Hassan's relatives.

"Our sympathies and prayers go to her family, friends and colleagues," Majewski told The Detroit News. "It's a personal tragedy and a tragedy for the world to lose someone who was doing so much good. Hamtramck is proud of the work she did."

A Chicago woman, 27-year-old Lexie Kamerman, was also killed in Friday's attack. The Taliban said they staged the attack in retaliation for an Afghan military operation earlier in the week against insurgents in Parwan province.

"The depth of our shock and sorrow at receiving this news — and the magnitude of our outrage over this senseless violence — is difficult to measure," UNICEF said in a statement. "These colleagues were an integral part of the UNICEF team in Afghanistan ... who are dedicated to improving the lives of others and building a better, safer world for all."

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