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At least 8 UN staffers are dead in Afghanistan

by Jorge Hernandez on April 1, 2011

At least 8 and possibly 10 members of the United Nations staff in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, were killed on Friday due to protesters angry over the burning of the Koran by a Florida pastor.

According to different sources, the number varies, between CNN reporting 8 people have died and the AFP reporting 10.

"We are aware of an incident in our Mazar office, we are currently working to ascertain all the facts," a United Nations spokesman, Don McNorton, who is stationed in Kabul, told the AFP.

On March 21, an American pastor named Wayne Sapp burned the Koran as a form of religious expression that was condemned by many. Sapp was joined by Terry Jones, whose plan to burn the Koran last year on September 11 drew warnings from many leaders, including President Obama.

Jones eventually backed down and did not carry through with the Koran burnings.

President Hamid Karzai asked the U.S. to reprimand those responsible for the March 21 Koran burning and the United Nations had previously warned that foreign workers in Afghanistan, a deeply religious country, would be in danger if pastors in the U.S. burned their holy book.

The protesters in Kabul shouted "Death to America," on Friday, according to the AFP.

A commander of the Afghan National Police, General Daud Daud, told the Associated Press that among the dead were five U.N. guards and two employees. One more was reportedly hurt but not killed.

The United Nations News Center released the following statement:

"The attack took place at an operations center for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), according to information released by the Secretary-General’s spokesperson. The exact number of UN staff killed is not yet clear and UNAMA said it was working to ascertain all the facts and to take care of affected staff."
 

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