April 1st, 2011
11:04 AM ET

U.N. staff killed in Mazar-e Sharif

At least 12 people were killed Friday in an attack on a United Nations building in Afghanistan that followed a demonstration against the reported burning of a Quran in Florida this month, authorities and a U.N. source with knowledge of the events said.

Eight workers for the U.N. and four Afghans were killed, said Abdul Rauof Taj, security director of Bulkh province. At least 24 people were injured, he said.

The attack followed a demonstration against the reported burning of a Quran this month by Florida pastor Terry Jones, who gained international attention last year with his plans to burn a Quran, the U.N. source with knowledge of events said.

Jones is the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. He canceled plans to burn a Quran last year, on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Last month, however, with far less attention than he attracted last year, Jones reportedly burned Islam's holy book.

The church says on its website that it "put the Koran on trial. The event is over, the Koran was found guilty and a copy was burned inside the building."

The attack on Friday happened at the operations center of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan in Mazar-e Sharif, said Dan McNorton, a U.N. spokesman.

"The situation is still confusing and we are currently working to ascertain all the facts and take care of all our staff," he said.

Initial indications are that knives and small arms were used in the attack, according to a U.N. spokesman who declined to be named.

The United Nations' special representative to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, was on his way to Mazar-e Sharif to assess the situation, McNorton said.


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