4 killed, 56 injured in Afghan protests
KUNDUZ ROCK-THROWING protesters attacked a UN compound, clashed with police and set tyres alight in Afghanistan Saturday, as a fifth day of protests over the burning of the copies of the holy Quran left four dead.
Dozens were also injured as violence rocked the northern city of Kunduz, where the UN compound was attacked, in unrest that raised the death toll from the protests to 28.
Columns of smoke hung over the city as demonstrators set tyres and traffic booths alight, witnesses said.
There were fresh protests in five different Afghan provinces on Saturday over the burning of the Islamic holy book — which prisoners allegedly used to pass messages — at the US airbase at Bagram near Kabul.
In Mihtarlam, in the central province of Laghman, protesters suffered gunshot wounds.
The worst violence was in Kunduz, where thousands attempted to storm the UN complex but failed to get in when police fired into the crowd at around 2pm (0930 GMT). Officers had so far managed to stop the crowd from entering the compound, police spokesman Sarwar Husaini said, adding that reinforcements were being sent to protect the premises.
A UN spokeswoman confirmed the attack but refused to say how many UN staff were on site at the time.
Sahad Mokhtar, head of the public health department in Kunduz, said: “The report we have so far from hospitals is four killed, 56 wounded in today’s demonstrations.” The incident has inflamed anti-Western sentiment already smouldering in Afghanistan over abuses by US-led foreign troops, such as the release last month of a video showing US Marines urinating on the corpses of dead Afghans. Denise Jeanmonod, a spokeswoman for UNAMA, the United Nations’ mission in Afghanistan, confirmed the Kunduz incident, saying that the organisation was “assessing the situation at the scene.” But she refused to give further details “for the security of staff” at the compound, or to say how many people were there.