Over 100 killed in Quran burning protests in Afghanistan

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Kabul : Over 100 people have died in violence in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar, sparked by protests against a US pastor’s burning of the holy Quran, officials said Sunday.

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Fighting was going on outside a government building and the city’s fifth district was littered with bodies.

Police said the protesters have been joined by Taliban militants.

Witnesses said police had opened fire on a crowd that tried to storm a UN office located next to a government building.

“A machine gun is being fired, there are a lot of victims,” one person said.

Police said that earlier in the day they prevented an attack on the UN office, killing nine attackers.

Protests over the public burning of the Quran in the US grew into riots Friday.

Violence started in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where seven UN workers and four protesters died as a mob stormed a UN office. It moved to the southern city of Kandahar Saturday, continuing Sunday. Violence has now spread to Jalalabad in the east, where at least 20 people have been killed.

US President Barack Obama termed the killings “outrageous”.

“The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

Russia condemned the “unacceptable” attack on the UN mission in Mazar-i-Sharif and demanded that measures be taken to stop violence against UN staff.