Day after killing of U.N. workers, riots in Kandahar leave 10 dead
Smoke rises from the UN’s office following a demonstration to condemn the burning of a copy of the Muslim holy book by a U.S. Florida pastor, in Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, April 1, 2011. (Photo credit: Mustafa Najafizada / AP)
Reuters and The Associated Press via MSNBC.com
April 2, 2011
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Saturday that the killings in Afghanistan after a fundamentalist Christian U.S. preacher burned a Quran were “outrageous” while calling the desecration of the holy text an act of bigotry.
“The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
“However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity,” he said.
Quran burning hurts American military efforts (NBC Nightly News, April 3, 2011) – Riots continue in Kandahar over a Florida pastor’s burning of the Quran. Top U.S. military advisors warn the pastor’s actions and the resulting unrest damage American efforts at winning Afghan support. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports. (01:56)
At least 10 people have been killed and 83 injured in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, officials said on Saturday, on a second day of violent protests over the actions of extremist Christian preacher Terry Jones, who supervised the burning of the Quran in front of about 50 people at a church in Florida on March 20, according to his website.
A suicide attack also hit a NATO military base in the capital Kabul, the day after protesters overran a U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed seven foreign staff in the deadliest attack on the U.N. in Afghanistan. …
Deadly riots continue in Afghanistan (NBC Nightly News, April 2, 2011) – As thousands riot in Kandahar over a Florida pastor burning the Quran, U.S. military casualties continue to mount ahead of the withdrawal set to start in July. NBC’s Peter Alexander has more. (02:15)
In an interview with Reuters at the tiny church he leads in Gainesville, Fla., Jones was unrepentant and vowed to lead an anti-Islam demonstration later this month in front of the largest mosque in the United States, located in Dearborn, Mich.
Last year, Jones threatened to burn a Quran but did not end up following through at that time. His threat last year came amid controversy over plans by Muslim leaders seeking to build an Islamic center and mosque near the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York.
Obama appealed to Americans then to respect religious freedom while warning that burning the Quran would endanger U.S. troops abroad.
The recent burning initially passed relatively unnoticed in Afghanistan, but after criticism from President Hamid Karzai and calls for justice during Friday sermons, thousands poured into the streets in several cities to denounce Jones. …
Quran burning protests continue (MSNBC, April 3, 2011) – Protests in Afghanistan continue over a U.S. pastor’s burning of the Quran. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports. (04:18)
In Afghanistan, new details emerged about the attack. The top U.N. envoy there, Staffan de Mistura, said the U.N. workers had dashed into a dark bunker hoping to escape the mob. But the door was broken in. …
De Mistura spoke in a somber tone as he described how three U.N. staff members and four Nepalese guards were killed Friday when the protesters stormed their compound in the normally peaceful city of Mazar-i-Sharif. He placed direct blame on those who burned the copy of the Muslim holy book in Florida. …
A formal inquiry is under way, but de Mistura said initial reports indicate that seven to 15 insurgents infiltrated a group of as many as 3,000 demonstrators who overran the U.N. compound, which was protected by Afghan policemen and six U.N.-hired Nepalese guards. The crowd overpowered the guards — who are instructed not to shoot into crowds of civilians, even if they are threatening — and the police were not able to stop them, he said.
When the killers forced themselves inside they saw Pavel Ershov, the mission chief who is fluent in Dari, one of two languages spoken in Afghanistan. They beat him, but stopped after he convinced them, in Dari, that he was a Muslim, de Mistura said.
“He spoke the language and tried to draw their attention on himself,” the envoy said. “For a moment, he hoped that they would think there was nobody else there.”
But using a light, the attackers found the three other foreigners, then pulled them out and killed them one after the other. Two died of bullet wounds. The third was killed with a knife to the throat.
They were identified by officials in their home countries as: Joakim Dungel, a 33-year-old Swede who worked on human rights; Lt. Col. Siri Skare, a 53-year-old female pilot from Norway who was an adviser; and Filaret Motco, a 43-year-old Romanian who worked in the political section of the U.N.
Related reports on this site
Anti-American protests turn deadly (MSNBC, Sept. 12, 2010) – Two protesters were shot to death and four were injured as Afghans protested for a third day against a plan by Florida pastor Terry Jones to burn copies of the Islamic holy book, the Quran. NBC’s Tom Aspell reports. (02:19)
Soldiers Pose with Afghan Corpse (March 21, 2011)
The collection of photos includes several dozen images of unidentified casualties, including this one of a severed head. In many of the photos it is unclear whether the bodies are civilians or Taliban. It is possible that the unidentified deaths are unrelated to 3rd Platoon, and involved no illegal acts by U.S. soldiers. But taking such photos, let alone sharing them with others, is a clear violation of Army standards. (Photo from “The Kill Team photos: More war crime images the Pentagon doesn’t want you to see.” Rolling Stone, March 27, 2011)
Afghan protestors beat a burning effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Jalalabad on Sunday, April 3, 2011. (Photo credit: Rahmat Gul / AP)
By Rahim Faiez and Rahmat Gul
April 3, 2011
JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Demonstrators battled police in southern Afghanistan’s main city on Sunday and took to the streets in the turbulent east for the first time as Western pleas failed to halt a third day of rage over a Florida pastor’s burning of the Quran.
An officer was shot dead in a second day of clashes in the city of Kandahar, said provincial health director Qayum Pokhla. Two officers and 18 civilians were wounded, he said.
In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block another highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani. …
The protests, which began Friday, also appear to be fueled more broadly by the resentment that has been building for years in Afghanistan over the operations of Western military forces, blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.
Coverage of the trial of a group of U.S. soldiers charged with killing Afghan civilians and the publication of photos of some posing with dead bodies added to the anger. …
Military commander Gen. David Petraeus and the top NATO civilian representative in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, said they “hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the holy Quran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.” …
Afghan Officer Kills 2 Americans as Protests Rage Video
Protests continue over U.S. Koran burning (NBC Nightly News, April 4, 2011) – Angry anti-American protests continue in Afghanistan after an anti-Muslim pastor burns a Koran in Florida. NBC’s Atia Abawi reports. (01:54)
Reuters and The Associated Press via MSNBC.com
April 4, 2011
MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan — A “rogue” Afghan border policeman on Monday shot dead two Americans training security forces in northern province Faryab, and hundreds took to the streets for a fourth day of protests against the burning of a Quran by a fundamentalist U.S. pastor.
Senior border police said the 23 year-old suspect might have been driven by anger over the desecration of Islam’s holy book rather than support for militants’ fight against foreign troops.
“It is not clear whether he was inspired by the Taliban, or by the burning of the holy Quran,” Gen. Habibullah Sayedkhil, commander of the border police in the north, told Reuters.
The man, who fled after the shooting, had more than two years experience in the police force and had not shown signs of extremism, said Najmuddin Sardar, deputy commander of the border police where he served. …
Across other parts of Afghanistan, protests continued against the actions of radical fundamentalist Christian preacher Terry Jones, who supervised the burning of a Quran in front of about 50 people at a church in Florida on March 20.
Up to a thousand angry residents in eastern city Jalalabad blocked the main highway to Kabul, set fire to effigies of Jones and shouted slogans like “death to America,” said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the provincial governor. …
About 20 people have been killed and nearly 150 wounded over three days of protests in north and south Afghanistan that degenerated into violence, although other large gatherings in some parts of the country ended peacefully.
Twelve people died in Kandahar Saturday and Sunday, when demonstrators waving white Taliban flags burned cars, attacked police, smashed shops and sacked a girls’ high school. …
Pastor Terry Jones talks outside the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida on April 2, 2011. (Photo credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack / Reuters – Landov)
U.S. Embassy in Kabul puts staff on lockdown as anti-American fury grows
U.S. Embassy in Kabul on lockdown amid riots (NBC “Today,” Feb. 22, 2012) – At least six people have been killed amid ongoing violence over the improper disposal of Qurans at NATO’s main base in Afghanistan. NBC’s Atia Abawi reports. (02:17)
Reuters and The Associated Press via MSNBC.com
February 22, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — Seven people were killed in clashes between Afghan security forces and protesters demonstrating against the burning of Muslim holy books at a NATO military base, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said Wednesday.
The anger over the Quran burning has sparked two days of protests across Afghanistan and tapped into anti-foreign sentiment fueled by a popular perception that foreign troops disrespect Afghan culture and Islam.
The demonstrations prompted the U.S. to lock down its embassy and bar its staff from traveling.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement that clashes during a protest in the eastern province of Parwan left four people dead. It said an investigation was under way to determine what happened.
The other deaths occurred at a U.S. base outside Kabul, where security guards killed one person, and in Jalalabad and Logar province, the ministry said.
The demonstration in Kabul drew thousands of protesters, who chanted “Death to America,” hurled rocks and set tires alight outside a complex that is home to foreign contractors, police and some coalition military forces.
Nearby, angry demonstrators set a fuel truck ablaze on a main highway running east out of the city, sending black smoke billowing into the air.
NATO apologized Tuesday for the burning of books, including Qurans, which had been pulled from the shelves of the Parwan Detention Facility, adjoining Bagram Air Field, because they [allegedly] contained extremist messages or inscriptions. …
A spokesman for ISAF, the US-led international forces in Afghanistan, said it is still unclear why several Qurans sent to a burn pit for disposal or who gave the orders. …
Several miles away, hundreds of protesters were throwing rocks at Camp Phoenix, a U.S. military base, said Kabul provincial police spokesman Ashmatullah Stanekzai. Shots were also fired in the air at Camp Phoenix.
Afghan protesters throw rocks towards a water canon near a U.S. military base in Kabul on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. (Photo credit: Ahmad Masood / Reuters)
After the Quran burning was made public Tuesday, more than 2,000 Afghans protested outside the Bagram air base near the capital.
In Parwan, provincial police chief Akram Bigzad said about 2,000 protesters were demonstrating outside a district headquarters when some of them opened fire with weapons.
“In the crowd there were rebels and Taliban who had weapons. They opened fire and fighting started. Four were killed and 10 were wounded. They are Talib,” Bigzad said.
A protest in Logar province also turned violent after someone in a group of about 300 demonstrators opened fire on police. Police returned fire, killing one protester, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Roogh Lawanay.
Two protesters and two police officers were also wounded, he added. He said the protesters had come from neighboring Wardak province, an insurgent hotbed.
Lawanay said a protest by about 400 people in Logar’s capital Pule Alam ended peacefully. …
FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 3, 2010
Right-wing extremists threaten governors (MSNBC “Countdown,” April 2, 2010) – Gov. Ed Rendell, D-Pa., responds to a letter he received from the Guardians of the Free Republics. (06:37)
One year ago today, I reported that the FBI was warning police across the country that the call of an anti-government group — a “sovereign citizen” group called Guardians of the Free Republics — to remove governors from office could provoke violence.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — April 3, 2009
North Korea fuels missile, and fears (NBC Nightly News, April 3, 2010) – U.S. officials say North Korea may be close to launching a long-range missile rocket that was being fueled. North Korea says its intention is simply to launch a satellite into space. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports. (01:07)
Two years ago today, on April 3, 2009, I reported that President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak issued a statement agreeing on “a stern, united response from the international community” as North Korea prepared to launch a long-range, multistage Taepodong-2 rocket capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.
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