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    BALKH, Mar 2: Thousands of scholars, local officials and civilians are on strike against the blasphemous caricature in the northern province of Balkh. PAJHWOK/Zabiullah IhsasSecurity and Crime

    10 UN workers killed, beheaded in Mazar attack

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Ten foreign employees at a UN office were killed in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, when a Quran burning protest turned violent, officials said on Friday.

    Another 12 people were injured after demonstrators stormed the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMA)'s office, firing gun shots at guards guarding the compound and setting fire inside after reports that a Florida pastor burned a copy of the Muslim holy book.

    "Ten (UN) people have been killed by the protesters. All the killed are foreigners," police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    But he declined to identify the nationalities of those killed. The situation was under control of the police forces as the protesters were dispersed, he added.

    A police source said eight foreigners were killed and two were beheaded after a thousand protesters flooded into the streets. The violence  lasted two to three hours.

    The chief of the mission in the city was wounded but survived. The dead included employees of Norwegian, Romanian and Swedish nationalities.

    A spokesman for the UN mission in Kabul confirmed the incident and the casualties, but did not provide details.

    The deaths occurred after the UN workers were trapped in the burning building. Thousands of people took to the streets after Friday prayers in the city to condemn the Quran burning incident by a Florida church pastor.

    On 20 March, Pastor Wayne Sapp set light to a copy of the Quran at a church in Florida. The burning took place in the presence of Terry Jones, another US pastor who last year drew condemnation over his aborted plan to burn the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

    Protests against the Florida burning were held in several Afghan cities on Friday, with demonstrators in Herat calling it a "day of anger".

    Before entering the UN building, the angry protestors pelted stones at guards manning the main entrance to the building.

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