Small Wars Journal

U.N. Staff Killed During Afghan Protest (Updated)

U.N. Staff Killed During Afghan Protest - Voice of America

At least 12 people, including eight foreign employees of the United Nations, have been killed in northern Afghanistan, after a protest against the burning of the Quran turned violent, Afghan police said Friday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned as "cowardly" the attack on the U.N. mission 's compound in Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province.

Afghan officials said demonstrators stormed the U.N. office during protests against the recent burning of the Quran by an American preacher in the southern U.S. state of Florida. Afghan President Hamid Karzai had condemned the Quran burning, and called on the United States to bring those responsible to justice.

On Friday, more than a thousand demonstrators took to the streets of Mazar-e-Sharif after Friday prayers. Afghan officials said the protest outside the U.N. mission began peacefully, but that some of the demonstrators overran the compound's security guards, killing them. Police say protesters then entered the building, setting it on fire, and beheading some of the U.N. workers inside.

Afghan officials said the dead included at least three Afghan protesters and five Nepalese U.N. guards.

The top U.N. official in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, was said to be heading to the northern city.

Demonstrations against the Quran burning were also held Friday in the Afghan capital, Kabul, and the western city of Herat, where protesters shouted anti-American slogans. No violence was reported.

In October of 2009, militants killed six U.N. employees during an attack at a guesthouse in Kabul.

President Karzai recently selected the relatively-peaceful city of Mazar-e-Sharif as one of seven areas slated to be transferred from NATO to Afghan security forces this year as part of the security transition.


Afghans Angry Over Koran Burning Kill U.N. Staff - New York Times

Afghan Protests of Koran Burning Turn Deadly - Washington Post

Protests Turn Deadly at Afghan U.N. Office - Wall Street Journal

Mob Kills 8 U.N. Workers in Afghanistan - Los Angeles Times

Deadly Protests for Koran Burning Reach Kandahar - New York Times

Kabul: 5 Die in Quran Burning Protest - Voice of America

Day 2: 5 Die in Quran Burning Protest - Associated Press

Five Dead in Second Day of Koran Burning Protests - Reuters

U.N. Staff Killed During Protest in N. Afghanistan - BBC News

United Nations Mission Rocked by Mob Killings - The Guardian

Seven Killed in Worst-ever Attack on U.N. Workers - Daily Telegraph

U.N. Staff Beheaded as Afghans Rage Against Pastor - The Indpendent

Afghans Angry at Quran Burning Kill 7 at U.N. Office - Associated Press

U.N. Death Toll in Afghan Attack May Hit 20 - Reuters

U.N. Condemns Deadly Attack on Afghan Office - Associated Press

U.S. 'Deeply Shocked' by U.N. Killings in Afghanistan - Voice of America

Obama Condemns Violence in Afghanistan - USA Today

Anti-Islam Pastor Responds to Killings in Afghanistan - Wall Street Journal

Pastor Who Burned Koran Demands Retribution - New York Times

Koran Burning by Pastor Initially Went Unnoticed - Washington Post

Koran Burning Pastor Calls Afghan Mob Killings Tragic - Los Angeles Times

Koran-burning Pastor Says Not Responsible for Deaths - Agence France-Presse

Florida Pastor Is Focus of Muslim Outrage, Again - Reuters

Koran Burning Ignored in U.S., News in Af and Pak - New York Times

Should Media Have Reported Fla. Quran Burning? - USA Today

Massacre in Mazar - Foreign Policy opinion

The Mazar Killings - Registan opinion

The Consequences of Qur'an Burning - The Guardian opinion


carl (not verified)

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 1:22am


Excellent points, especially the one about our inside the beltway elites and their fellow travelers being more interested in impressing each other with their hepness than dealing with the world.

As far as your point about calling the killers takfiri, I have this to say...YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! The people on the scene recognize the difference. We should too.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 12:08am

Also, this:

Our high ranking officials should use the word takfiri or salafist more often. They don't speak to Americans as adults, with serious intent, and then the conversation becomes dumbed down to a simplified level.

If we would use the work takfiri, then the arguments would be about that group of people instead of indicting a much larger group that doesn't deserve it.

Anyway, it's a thought.

Madhu (not verified)

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 12:06am

@ Carl - I posted the following in another thread and wanted to add it to this discussion as well. It's impressionistic and I'm not sure it is the correct way to think about things, but here are my two cents:

<em>2. Second, the above excerpt about Bono fits into the discussion about the book burning in Florida and related events.

When I look at India Abroad, or other papers meant for the Western Indian diaspora, I see a wide range of Muslim names. I read about entrepreneurs, athletes, Bollywood stars, politicians, artists, and yes, those involved in terrorism.

It is a full spectrum view of South Asian Muslim society: rich, varied, complex, and a part of the fabric of Indian life. I understand that there are serious problems but there are good things about that system, too.

When I read the more "enlightened" papers here in the States, like the NYT, the images are weirdly narrow and patronizing. It's as if it is more important for our high ranking officials to show they are sensitive then to speak honestly about the world.

In a strange way, they are the flip side of the bigots. They empower the bigots because they are afraid to criticize behavior.

If someone in the States burned the Bhagavad Gita and an Indian Hindu mob went on a rampage in India, it would be condemned by the same people that are jumping up to apologize for what has happened in Florida.


carl (not verified)

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 9:40pm

How is it we are giving the killers who did this a pass? Several people have already been arrested and those drones droning around the FATA skies shoot missiles at people who behave in the same way. Where is this pass business coming from?


Mon, 04/04/2011 - 8:52am


This pastor didn't do the right thing. It's not an act of Christianity, it was an act of intolerance. We all can see that. However....

Why is it we are giving the Muslims a pass on their violent behavior? How about we stop berating this pastor and start holding people accountable for their violent response?

I'm all about COIN but they have to give us something to work with.