The BBC is reporting that an attack on a UN compound in northern Afghanistan has left at least 12 people dead, and that the violence occurred during a protest over the recent burning of a Quran in a Florida church.
From the BBC:
On 20 March, Pastor Wayne Sapp set light to a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida.
The burning took place under the supervision of Terry Jones, another US pastor who last year drew condemnation over his aborted plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Protests were held in several other Afghan cities on Friday – which demonstrators in Herat had called a “day of anger”, Afghanistan’s Noor TV channel reports.
The BBC’s Paul Wood in Kabul says Mazar-e Sharif is known to be a relatively peaceful part of the country, but that the Florida incident will raise questions of whether the city will be able to make the transition from foreign to Afghan security control later this year.
[Lal Mohammad] Ahmadzai, the [Afghan National Police] spokesman, said the demonstrators were angry about the burning of the Koran at the church of Pastor Terry Jones on Mar. 20. Mr. Jones had caused an international uproar by threatening to burn the Koran last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and demonstrations at the time led to deaths throughout Afghanistan, but on a small scale. Mr. Jones subsequently had publicly promised not to burn a Koran, but then presided over a mock trial and the burning of the Koran at his small fringe church in Gainesville, Fla.
Fran Ingram, an assistant at the Dove World Outreach Center, in Gainesville, Fla., said that the church had burned the Koran after a ceremony on March 20.
“We put the Koran on trial and we did burn it,” she said. Ms. Ingram said she and other church members were no more concerned about their safety than before the burning and the killings of the United Nations workers in Afghanistan. “We have a huge stack of death threats,” she said. “We take precautions. I have a handgun. A lot of us have concealed weapons permits. We’re a small church and we don’t have money to hire security.”
After news of the attack, Mr. Jones, released a statement expressing no regret for the Koran burning. He called the attack on the compound “a very tragic and criminal action” and called on the United States and the United Nations to take action. “The time has come to hold Islam accountable,” he said.