2 Apr 2011

Afghanistan: more deaths over Koran burning

Nine people are reported to have died during protests in Kandahar over the burning of a Koran in the US. It follows an attack on a UN office in Mazar-i-Sharif in which seven UN workers were killed.

At least nine people have been killed in the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar as violent protests continued over the burning of a Koran in Florida.

A band of around 150 protesters took to the streets to denounce the Koran-burning organised 11 days ago by Pastor Terry Jones, according to eye-witnesses.

Four dead bodies brought to a hospital in Kandahar showed signs that they had been beaten and hit with stones, a senior health official for the province told reporters.

A spokesman for the Kandahar governor said the protest was organised by the Taliban, who used the Koran-burning as an excuse to incite violence in the city.

The Taliban had nothing to do with the attacked on Mazar-iSharif. It was a pure act of responsible Muslims. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Muhahid

In the Afghan capital Kabul, meanwhile, a small group of insurgents attacked a Nato coalition base, causing light injuries to three soldiers, police and Nato-led troops said.

As the United Nations takes stock of yesterday’s attack on the UN office in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which resulted in the deaths of seven UN workers, a Security Council spokesman called on the government of Afghanistan to bring those responsible to justice and take all possible steps to protect UN personnel and premises.

The Taliban has said it had no role in Friday’s assault. “The Taliban had nothing to do with this. It was a pure act of responsible Muslims,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “The foreigners brought the wrath of the Afghans on themselves by burning the Koran.”

In additional to the seven UN fatalities, five Afghan protesters were killed in the Mazar-i-Sharif incident on 1 April – some after trying to take weapons off UN security guards.