A Newtownards man who was due to marry the doctor killed in Afghanistan last week has spoken of his heartbreak at having to identify her body.
Mark ‘Paddy’ Smith, was to marry Dr Karen Woo in Chelsea on August 20.
However, the 36-year-old was travelling through Badakhshan after spending three weeks delivering medical care to people in |the mountains of Nuristan when about 10 gunmen robbed |the group and killed them one by one.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings.
A spokesman said they killed |the foreigners because they were “spying for the Americans” and “preaching Christianity”.
A British national, Dr Woo was working with IAM (International Assistance Mission) when she was killed, along with nine other aid workers.
Her body was flown home to Stevenage, Hertfordshire, on Tuesday.
Mr Smith said she was “gregarious, loving, caring person” and an “incredible human being”.
“It just seems like such a loss to the people of Afghanistan that somebody who cared so much is gone,” he told the BBC.
“There are so many different things I will miss about her, her love for life. Anyone who met her couldn’t help but smile, she made people happy. If people needed assistance she would always be there. She never let you down.”
Mr Smith’s father Richard told the Belfast Telegraph that he and his wife Carole had been left devastated by their son’s loss.
“She was an absolute sweetheart,” he said. “Mark has been on the phone to his mum and we can’t imagine what he is going through, it’s a living hell for him. It’s a total nightmare, dreadful, just dreadful.
“He has identified Karen’s body and there are a lot of things his mother is still too upset to talk about.”
Mr Smith said his son had arrived in Kabul expecting to accompany Karen back to London, where preparations for their wedding at the end of the month at a Chelsea Registry Office were set to get into full flow.
Instead, he found out that she had been murdered.
“He had been back in the UK last week and stayed at Karen’s flat in London. He left there on Friday and flew into Afghanistan expecting to meet her but instead got the awful news.
“They should have been coming home on Sunday.”
Mr Smith met Dr Woo by chance after he helped unload her luggage from a plane in November last year.