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Peace Corps Worker Slain in Gabon

December 19, 1998

LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) _ A Peace Corps worker has been slain in the northwest part of Gabon, the first killing of a volunteer in the Central African country.

U.S. diplomats and aid workers in Gabon attended a memorial service Saturday in the capital to mourn for Karen Phillips. She was raped and stabbed to death Thursday.

Phillips, 37, of Philadelphia, was discovered in the forest about 200 yards from her home in the logging town of Oyem, a police spokesman said on condition of anonymity. Oyem is about 190 miles northwest of the capital.

Three people were arrested Friday in connection with her death. Their identities had not been released, and it was unclear if they knew the victim.

Phillips, a former charity worker in Philadelphia, arrived in Gabon in June on a two-year assignment as a volunteer agriculture project management officer and part-time English teacher, according to Paulette Korazemo, who manages Peace Corps operations in this country of 1.2 million.

``We are shocked and horrified to see that someone who came to this country to work for the people was killed by some of the people,″ Korazemo said.

It was the first killing in the Peace Corps’ 31-year history in the lush, oil-rich country.

There are several dozen Peace Corps workers, and two remain in Oyem. The Peace Corps has no immediate plans to evacuate its volunteers or take other protective measures, Korazemo said.

``We are waiting for the result of the police investigation,″ she said. ``There is sadness and shock surely, but no one has expressed the desire to leave.″

Government officials and ordinary Gabonese people ``who knew Karen or knew of her″ have flooded the Peace Corps office with expressions of sympathy and regret, she said.

``The response has been overwhelming. Gabonese people are as shocked as we are,″ Korazemo said.

Phillips is survived by her mother and father in the Philadelphia area.

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