UN: Afghan Attacks Will Not Deter Our Mission

World body says it will maintain its presence in the country, despite the deadly attacks on its offices.

Protests were sparked after a controversial US preacher supervised the burning of a Quran. politics, carbonated.tv, carbonated tv, news,

World body says it will maintain its presence in the country, despite the deadly attacks on its offices.

The deadly attack on a United Nations compound in northern Afghanistan will not affect the world body's presence or work in the country, the organisation's top diplomat said.

The attack "should not deter the UN presence, activities in this country in this delicate and particularly crucial period," Staffan de Mistura, the UN's special representative in Afghanistan said on Saturday.

De Mistura flew to Mazar-i-Sharif to handle the aftermath of the attack, when protesters enraged by the burning of a Quran by a radical fundamentalist Christian in the US overran the mission and murdered seven foreign staff.

He told a small group of journalists in the Afghan capital on Saturday that international staff would be temporarily deployed to Kabul until office was rebuilt.

"Having discovered that the office was destroyed, I have decided to redeploy... temporarily to Kabul, 11 of our international staff who otherwise would not be able to operate, until we reconstitute a new office.

"This is not an evacuation," the envoy told reporters, saying staff would return as soon as a secure office was established in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Obama reaction

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, the US president, called the killings "outrageous".

"The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is
an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry," Obama said in a statement on Saturday.

"However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity."

Violent protests broke out on Friday and continued on Saturday over the actions of Terry Jones, the preacher who supervised the burning of the Quran in front of about 50 people at a church in Florida on March 20.

Unrepentant

In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, Jones was unrepentant and defiantly vowed to lead an anti-Islam protest outside the biggest mosque in the US later this month.

Government officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan have called for US authorities to arrest Jones. However, his
public criticism of Islam and desecration of the Quran are allowed under US laws protecting free speech.

Jones defended the Quran burning and said the reaction in Afghanistan "shows exactly what we're talking about".

Two suicide attackers disguised as women blew themselves up and a third was gunned down on Saturday when they used force to try to enter a NATO base on the outskirts of Kabul, NATO and Afghan police said.

At least 10 people were killed and 83 others wounded in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Saturday.

Some protesters in Kandahar carried white Taliban flags and shouted slogans including "long live the Taliban" and "death to America."

The spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province said the protest was organised by the Taliban who used the Quran burning in Florida as an excuse to incite violence.

Taliban denied any role in the Mazar attack or Kandahar protests and analysts warned against underestimating the depth of anti-Western sentiment in much of Afghanistan, after years of military presence and many civilian casualties.

Aljazeera