More violence rattles Afghanistan after U.N. killings

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan Sat Apr 2, 2011 3:10am EDT

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A suicide attack hit Kabul and a violent demonstration against Koran-burning rattled the southern city of Kandahar the day after the worst ever attack on the United Nations in Afghanistan, which killed seven foreign staff.

The Taliban said they had no role in Friday's assault on the U.N. office in the usually peaceful northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, after both the provincial governor and a senior U.N. official suggested provocateurs among the crowd had sparked or led the vicious attack.

"The Taliban had nothing to do with this, it was a pure act of responsible Muslims," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said by phone from an undisclosed location.

"The foreigners brought the wrath of the Afghans on themselves by burning the Koran."

Thousands of demonstrators flooded into the streets of a city considered safe enough to be in the vanguard of a crucial security transition, after Friday prayers ended, and many headed straight for the U.N. mission.

There they overwhelmed security guards, burned parts of the compound and climbed blast walls to topple a guard tower. The throat of one of the dead foreigners was slit, the U.N. said.

Five Afghan protesters were also killed and others wounded, some after trying to take weapons off U.N. security guards.

The attack took many in the city, one of the country's most prosperous and stable, by surprise and some demonstrators said they had not expected the extreme violence.

"It is our right to demonstrate because they burned our holy book, but I was not there to kill people," said 20-year old Habeebullah, who was wounded in one leg.

KABUL, KANDAHAR VIOLENCE

In Kabul on Saturday, a small group of burkha-clad insurgents attacked a coalition base, although they caused only light injuries to three soldiers, police and NATO-led troops said.

In southern Kandahar, the spiritual heartland of the Taliban movement, a band of around 150 men who had taken to the streets to denounce Koran burning set tyres alight, smashed up shops and attacked a photographer.

The reporter was hit over the head and had his camera taken from him and smashed. Police kept other journalists from approaching the crowd, which was shouting slogans including "death to America."

More protests are possible across volatile and deeply religious Afghanistan, where anti-Western sentiment has been fueled for years by civilian casualties.

The United Nations has clamped down on security, and may have to review its presence in Afghanistan, although a spokesman has said there is no possiblity it would pull out.

(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi in KABUL and Ismail Sameem in KANDAHAR, writing by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Comments (4)
KiazerSouze wrote:
Why aren’t there Turkish Islamic scholars denouncing these crimes against the Quran? It must be obvious to them as well. Do they really think that they can escape justice by being silent? Or, do they think they will escape justice by not being the direct person to swing the blade? It is apparent that the Taliban is using the Quran for their own self serving purposes. Didn’t this happen before in history?

Moreover, the Taliban and Ergenekon (The Turkish Arm of the Taliban) were implemented by the United States in order to supposedly fight communism. These wars are all about criminal enterprise battles over turf. It has nothing to do with religion. Nobody is buying it.

Apr 03, 2011 3:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
moweddell wrote:
Must we be so politically correct that we must deny our own Christian or other religious heritage? If so, we have already lost our own civilization. Christians today are not willing to proclaim their religion, nor are they willing to die for it, nor are they willing to kill for it. Thus, he Islamic – Muslim religion will win, because they are willing to do all of these in the name of their Koran. Now, even Americans have joined the Islamic bandwagon and are themselves blaiming other Americans for terrorist killings in these foreign countries, just so long as these misguided terrorists claim it was done in the name of the Koran. That is stupidity and is misguided. Americans are not committing these terrorist acts. These Islamic murders have lived by the code of the feud for centuries, always blaming others, or Christians, or other religious sects for their cause, while killing Christians, civilians, children, and women, etc. Lets get down to the basics. Their religion is misguided. It doesn’t matter how many believe it in the Koran – it is misguided. Further, for generations clerics have brainwashed their illeterate (40% by stats) followers to do their bidding – Crimes against humanity – which must stop!!! Perhaps we should burn all of the Korans and start over. Come on Americans, place the blame on the ones doing the killing!!! Monty Weddell Dallas, TX

Apr 03, 2011 4:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
remery wrote:
It appears someone has found a way for the average person to attract the attention of Washington. I personally don’t condone burning the Quran, but expect more burnings because the average American is doing without while our politicians strive to be Rulers of the World.

Apr 03, 2011 9:09pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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