A doctor who was murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan last week was due to marry a former soldier from Northern Ireland in just two weeks time.

Doctor Karen Woo, from the UK, was among nine foreign aid workers who were shot dead on Friday in a remote part of Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, accusing the health worker victims of being spies and Christian missionaries. The 36-year-old Woo was engaged to Mark 'Paddy' Smith, a former soldier from Newtownards.

The couple met in Kabul and were due to marry in London at the end of the month. Speaking on Sunday, Paddy Smith said: 'She was an extraordinary person. You don't find too many people like Karen Woo in this world unfortunately. She was a gregarious, loving, caring person. I will miss her love for life. She just made people happy. She would help people wherever she could, she always had time for people. She was someone you could rely on, she would never let you down.'

The family of Doctor Woo, called her a true hero. In a statement, her relatives said: 'Her motivation was purely humanitarian. She was a Humanist and had no religious or political agenda.'

They continued: 'She wanted the world to know there was more than a war going on in Afghanistan, that people were not getting their basic needs met. She wanted the ordinary people of Afghanistan, especially the women and children, to be be able to receive health care.'

'Her commitment was to make whatever difference she could. She was a true hero. Whilst scared, she never let that prevent her from doing things she had to do.'

Doctor Woo's family said they were proud of everything she had achieved.
The statement continued: 'Karen, you were an inspiration to everyone you met. You combined brains and beauty, intelligence, drive and kookiness in equal measure.'

'You were the embodiment of seizing the moment. You went through life always believing the best of everyone despite everything you've seen. I hope that the legacy you leave is to inspire others to give love and aid rather than perpetuate hate and violence.'