Afghanistan: Deadly Protests Continue as UN Mourns Slain Staff

Kabul, Afghanistan – Yesterday, a mob enraged by the burning of a Koran by a Florida preacher attacked the United Nations compound in Afghanistan’s northern city Mazar-i-Sharif, killing seven UN employees (revised down from eight) and wounding an unknown number of others in the deadliest ever attack against UN personnel in Afghanistan.

Some updates on that story:

– Details of the UN dead are emerging.

UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the dead included four Nepalese. Sweden’s foreign minister said 33-year-old national Joakim Dungel was killed, while Norway’s army said one of its officers, 53-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Siri Skare, was among the dead.

Romanian official sources told news agency Agerpres that a Romanian man working for the UN was also among those killed.

– UN flags are now flying at half-mast in honor of those killed in Mazar and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said of the dead, “These brave men and women were working in the best tradition of the United Nations and gave their lives in the service of humanity.”

– Chillingly, Kieran Dwyer, a spokesman for the UN mission in Afghanistan, said attackers shot their way into the compound and stalked the staff members trapped inside before killing them. “Our colleagues were hunted down in there,” he told the Globe and Mail. Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan is in Mazar now dealing with the aftermath.

– The Guardian has published a set of photos of the deadly riot.

– All reports and videos from yesterday’s attack indicate that the Nepali guards at the UN compound fought to the death against an overwhelming number of demonstrators.

– At least ten people were killed in violent demonstrations today in the southern city of Kandahar. AFP reports that the demonstrators burned down a girls’ school and were repelled by police bullets when they tried to attack the UN compound in the city:

Police had fired into the air to try to deter thousands of protesters heading towards the buildings, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Smoke was rising from different parts of the city as protesters burned cars and tyres.

The provincial authorities said the protesters had damaged government and private buildings and torched vehicles.

Daud Farhad, a senior doctor in the city’s main hospital, told AFP the death toll had risen to 10, with 83 injured.

– Kandahar-based researcher @FelixKuehn tweets that a large market was also set ablaze during the protest and Pajhwok Afghan News reports  (from behind its paywall) that four local journalists reporting from the scene were “beaten with sticks and fists” by demonstrators.

– Kabul was calm today and most foreign aid workers are confined to their compounds until further notice.