Twelve killed in Afghanistan after protests against Quran-burning

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

At least eight foreign UN workers and four Afghans were killed today in Mazar-i-Sharif, in northern Afghanistan, following a protest against the burning of the Quran by a Florida pastor, the Associated Press reports:

Eight foreigners and four Afghan protesters have been killed when a demonstration against the burning of a Quran turned violent.

Afghan officials say about 2,000 people peacefully gathered outside the U.N. office in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, but then some protesters grabbed weapons from the U.N. guards and opened fire on the police, then stormed the building. Black smoke billowed from the building.

Gen. Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in the north, says five Nepalese guards were among those killed.

Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary says four protesters also were killed.

Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, has gone to Mazar-i-Sharif "to personally handle the situation," the Associated Press reports.

President Barack Obama, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, both condemned the attack, whose death toll some reports said might rise to twenty people.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan today," Obama said in a statement Friday. "Together with the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to those injured and killed, as well as to their loved ones."

(Afghans carrying a man wounded during a demonstration to condemn the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book by a Florida pastor on Friday, April. 1, 2011.: Mustafa Najafizada/AP)