French UN worker buried in Afghanistan

20th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

KABUL, Nov 20 (AFP) - The old British cemetery where slain French UN worker Bettina Goislard was buried Thursday is the last resting place for the 19th century's imperial warriors and explorers who also died in Afghanistan.

KABUL, Nov 20 (AFP) - The old British cemetery where slain French UN worker Bettina Goislard was buried Thursday is the last resting place for the 19th century's imperial warriors and explorers who also died in Afghanistan.

Goislard, 29, who was shot dead by suspected Taliban as she sat in a marked UN car last Sunday, was laid to rest in the central Kabul cemetery in a private ceremony by her family and colleagues from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

She had recently asked to be buried in Afghanistan if anything happened to her.

A simple plaque inscribed "British Cemetery" marks the walled graveyard, reserved for foreigners and non-Muslims.

"No-one has been buried here for years," said white-bearded Rahim, 60, who has looked after the cemetery for the past 17 years.

The cemetery, in Kabul's Shar-e Naw (new city) district, is dotted with dozens of headstones dating back to the British occupation during the first 1839-42 Afghan war.

It lies at the foot of the Bemaru hill where British soldiers were defeated in what was known as the battle of the Bemaru heights in 1841.

The battle proved to be the turning point in the first Anglo-Afghan war, which ended with the massacre of the entire British colonial army, except for one doctor, as they retreated from Kabul.

A black marble plaque on the cemetery's south wall is "dedicated to all those British officers and soldiers who gave their lives in the Afghan wars of the 19th and 20th century."

British troops killed during the first and second Afghan wars are buried there, including Major John Cook, killed in action in 1879. Cook had earned the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest military decoration, seven months earlier.

Another plaque commemorates an Italian colonel serving as a UN security officer who was killed in August 1998 by Taliban fighters in central Kabul.

The northern wall is covered in plaques and a memorial to the more than 80 ISAF soldiers who have died during their peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan since late 2001.

One plaque lists the 62 Spanish troops who died in a plane crash in Turkey while returning home after their tour of duty.

Others pay tribute to the German troops killed by a suicide bomber in June and to the German and Danish soldiers accidentally killed dismantling missiles and in a helicopter crash.

Germans, French, a Chinese technician, a Czech water engineer, Yugoslav engineer, a Russian woman, a New York student, a Danish explorer, and a couple of Finnish tourists also share the graveyard.

Other graves mark those who died following the 1960s hippy trail from Europe to India through Afghanistan.

Ron and Card Henley were killed in a car accident near the Salang mountain pass on June 30, 1969, along with their two children, aged four and three.

Two British students from Sheffield University, Charles and Wendy, 21 and 19, were shot dead in the southern city of Kandahar on August 4, 1971.

Goislard was laid to rest alongside compatriot Adrien Flahaut, a member of the French archaelogical expedition to Afghanistan who died in Kabul in 1936.

Nearby are the graves of famed British-Hungarian Silk Road archaeologist Mark Aurel Stein, who died in Kabul in 1943, and Danish explorer Henning Haslund Christensen who died in 1948.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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