Eleven people, including three foreign U.N. workers, five Nepalese U.N. guards and three protesters, were killed Friday in an attack on a U.N. headquarters in the northern Afghanistan by demonstrators protesting at the burning of the Quran by a U.S. pastor, police told AFP.
A U.N. spokesman confirmed that some U.N. personnel were killed in the attack on the body's headquarters in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
"We can confirm an attack on the U.N. mission in Afghanistan's operations center in Mazar-i-Sharif, and can confirm that there have been deaths of U.N. personnel," deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
and we are working to ascertain all the facts and take care of all our staff," Haq said.
He added that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special representative in Afghanistan, Staffan De Mistura, was "on his way to Mazar-i-Sharif now to deal with the situation personally on the ground."
Over a thousand protesters had flooded into the streets of the normally peaceful city after Friday prayers, and after two or three hours violence broke out.
A small group attacked the U.N. compound, throwing stones and climbing on blast barriers to try and enter.
A police source, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media, said protesters had stormed into the compound where they attacked the victims.
The chief of the mission in the city was wounded but survived, and the dead included employees of Norwegian, Romanian and Swedish nationalities, he added.
Protests were also held in Kabul, where riot police were on hand as demonstrators shouted slogans against the United States, Israel and Britain.
Afghanistan had condemned the "disrespectful and abhorrent" burning of the Quran copy by evangelical preacher Wayne Sapp in a renegade Florida church, calling it an effort to incite tension between religions.
President Hamid Karzai called on the United States to bring to justice those responsible for the Mar. 21 burning of the Islamic holy book.
Sapp set light to a Quran copy under the supervision of Terry Jones, who last year drew condemnation over his plan to burn a pile of the holy books to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Jones cancelled those plans under enormous pressure from world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama, but the mere threat to burn the Quran sparked large protests in Afghanistan, where the U.N. and aid groups warned that civilians and aid workers in the country could be killed if the pastor went ahead.
Afghanistan is a deeply devout Islamic country where even rumors that the Koran has been insulted can result in deadly violence.