The Globe and Mail reports:
Afghan protesters angered by the burning of a Koran by an obscure U.S. pastor killed up to 20 UN staff, beheading two foreigners, when they overran a compound in a normally peaceful northern city on Friday in the worst-ever attack on the UN in Afghanistan.
At least eight foreigners were among the dead after attackers took out security guards, burned parts of the compound and climbed up blast walls to topple a guard tower, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a police spokesman for the northern region.
According to the AP, one protester held a sign that said, “We want these bloody bastard Americans with all their forces to leave Afghanistan.”
The Afghanis were angry that a Gainesville, Florida church burned a Koran on March 20.
According to the AP:
The Gainesville, Florida church’s website stated that after a five-hour trial on March 20, the Quran “was found guilty and a copy was burned inside the building.” A picture on the website shows a book in flames in a small portable fire pit. The church on Friday confirmed that the Quran had been burned.
In a statement, Jones did not comment on whether his act had lead to the deaths. Instead he said it was time to “hold Islam accountable” and called on the United States and the U.N. to hold “these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities.”
The AP reports that at least 7 foreigners were killed as a result of the protest in Afghanistan:
Thousands of protesters angry over the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor stormed a U.N. compound Friday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 12 people, including eight foreigners. The desecration of the Muslim holy book fueled resentment against the West at a critical moment in the Afghan war.
The demonstration in Mazar-i-Sharif turned violent when some protesters grabbed weapons from the U.N. guards and opened fire, then mobbed buildings and set fires on the compound, officials said. Demonstrators also massed in Kabul and the western city of Herat.
The topic of Quran burning stirred outrage among millions of Muslims and others worldwide after the Rev. Terry Jones’ small church, Dove Outreach Center, threatened to destroy a copy of the holy book last year. The Florida pastor had backed down but the church went through with the burning last month.
The AP also observes that last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement calling the burning a “crime against a religion.” He said it was a “disrespectful and abhorrent act” and called on the U.S. and the UN to bring the Koran-burners to justice.
This statement no doubt inflamed the Afghan protesters.
The AP notes that there was more than one protest in Afghanistan:
Several hundred people also protested the Quran burning at several sites in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan. Protesters burned a U.S. flag at a sports stadium in Herat and chanted “Death to the U.S.” and “They broke the heart of Islam.”
About 100 people also gathered at a traffic circle near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Police directed traffic around the demonstration in the capital. One protester carried a sign that said: “We want these bloody bastard Americans with all their forces to leave Afghanistan.”
In a statement, the Florida church’s pastor, Terry Jones, wasn’t apologetic for the Koran-burning incident that occurred at his church:
We… find this a very tragic and criminal action. The United States government and the United Nations itself, must take immediate action. We must hold these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities.