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Afghanistan: Deadly Kandahar protest at Koran burning

Posted on: April 5, 2011

Ten people have been killed in the Afghan city of Kandahar during a demonstration against the burning of a Koran in the US, officials say.

Hundreds of people took part in the protest. Gunfire was heard and cars were set on fire.

On Friday, seven UN workers were killed after a protest over the same issue in in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif.

It was the worst attack on the UN mission in Afghanistan since the international invasion in 2001.
Further violence

A large and angry crowd surged through the streets of Kandahar, chanting “They have insulted our Koran” and “Death to America”, the BBC’s Paul Wood reports from Kabul.

The authorities in both Kandahar and Mazar-e Sharif blamed the Taliban for the attacks. However, the Taliban has rejected the accusation.

“The Taliban had nothing to do with this, it was a pure act of responsible Muslims,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told the Reuters news agency by phone from an undisclosed location.

“The foreigners brought the wrath of the Afghans on themselves by burning the Koran,” he said.

UN staff remain on maximum security alert and under lockdown, our correspondent says. However, there is no move yet to evacuate them from Afghanistan, as happened in 2009 after an attack on a UN guesthouse.

Separately, three insurgents were killed when they attacked a Nato base.

They were stopped before they could enter the compound, Nato and Afghan police said.

At least one was wearing a burka, news agencies reported on Saturday, quoting police sources.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence in Mazar-e Sharif as “outrageous and cowardly”. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said it was inhumane and against Islamic and Afghan values.

In all, 14 people were killed.

Local police told the BBC that 27 people had been arrested following the demonstration in Mazar-e Sharif.

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