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27 February 2008

Grad of local seminary said to have been killed

A Southwestern Baptist Theological seminary graduate apparently has been killed after being kidnapped by gunmen in Afghanistan a month ago, a humanitarian aid foundation reported Tuesday.

Cyd Mizell, 50, an aid worker who taught Afghan women income-producing skills such as sewing, and driver Muhammad Hadi, another aid worker, were abducted Jan. 26 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

They served with the nonprofit Asian Rural Life Development Foundation.

"Although we have no confirmation of their deaths, we have received information over the past few days indicating that our two aid workers have been killed," foundation officials said on the organization's Web site, www.arldf.net.

Kandahar, in southeastern Afghanistan, was the Taliban's capital before the fundamentalist group was overthrown by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001. The region remains infiltrated with Taliban militants and al Qaeda sympathizers.

Southwestern officials said in a prepared statement that they are "deeply saddened" by Mizell's death.

"This barbarism displayed is typical of radical Islam, and all Americans should watch these developments closely," the statement said. "We call on well-meaning Muslims everywhere to decry this horrendous action."

Mizell had "a quiet strength and was a great mentor," said Terri Stovall, Southwestern's dean of women's programs. Stovall lived two doors away from Mizell in a Southwestern dormitory when they were seminary students 20 years ago.

"She was kind of the mother of the hall, because she was a bit older than most of us," said Stovall, 44. "Sometimes you can get wrapped up in academics, but she really wanted to know what was going on in our lives. When things were rough, she was there for you. And when they were positive, she celebrated with you."

Mizell, a native of Eureka, Calif., graduated from Southwestern with a master of divinity degree in 1990.

She had lived in Kandahar since 2005, teaching English to high school students and job skills to women.

Mizell often did needlepoint while at Southwestern, Stovall said.

"Everything she made, she gave away," Stovall said. "When I found out what she was doing in Afghanistan, I thought that was probably the perfect thing for her. I can see her doing that."

When Stovall's grandmother died in another state, Mizell hurried down the hall to offer help and sympathy, she said.

"Her face was the first one at my door," Stovall said. "I remember her saying, 'We've got to find a way to get you to an airport.'"

A man who answered the phone Tuesday at the Seattle home of Mizell's parents said they were not taking calls. In a posting shortly after Mizell's kidnapping, her father, George Mizell, thanked those concerned for his daughter and implored kidnappers to return her.

"I'm confused why my daughter would be taken because she's a gentle, caring and respectful person," he wrote.

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

TERRY LEE GOODRICH, 817-685-3812


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