KANDAHAR: At least five people have been killed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, on a second day of violent protests over the burning of a Quran by an obscure US pastor, a health official and government spokesman said on Saturday.
A suicide attack also hit a Nato military base in the capital Kabul, the day after protesters over-ran a UN mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed seven foreign staff, in the worst ever attack on the UN in Afghanistan.
Four dead bodies brought to a hospital in Kandahar city, showed signs they had been beaten and hit with stones said Abdul Qayum Pukhla, the senior health official for the province.
A band of around 150 men who had taken to the streets to denounce Quran burning set tyres alight, smashed up shops and attacked a photographer, Reuters' witnesses said.
Protestors hit the photographer over the head and smashed his camera. Police kept other journalists from approaching the crowd, which was shouting slogans including "death to America".
The spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province said the protest was organised by the Taliban who used the Quran burning as an excuse to incite violence in a city where their reach has been curtailed by an aggressive Nato-led military campaign.
"The demonstration in Kandahar was planned by insurgents to take advantage of the situation and to create insecurity," said Zalmay Ayoubi, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor. He put the toll at five and said 46 people had been wounded.
Around 1,000 people protested peacefully in the northern province of Tahar, said Shah Jahan Noori, provincial police chief.
The Taliban claim no role in Friday’s assault.
Terry Jones says not responsible for UN deaths
The evangelical pastor whose church burned a Quran last month said he was "devastated" but did not feel responsible for the killings Friday of seven UN workers in a violent protest in Afghanistan.
"We are devastated by that information, that news," Terry Jones, the head of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, told AFP. "We don't feel responsible for that."
The United Nations said four Nepalese guards, three foreign UN workers, and several protesters were killed when a mob enraged by the Quran burning attacked the UN compound in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Jones presided over the burning of the Islamic holy book March 20 at his Florida church, an act he had long threatened despite warnings it would put American troops and others in Afghanistan in danger.
"The radical element of Islam takes that as an excuse to promote their violent activities," Jones said Friday. "What we would like to see is the United States government standing up, the UN standing up.
"It's time to stop ignoring the violence going on in Muslim countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said.
Jones said the killings "won't change anything we're doing" but added that there's no plan to burn another Quran.
"We have, right now, no plans, no," he told AFP when asked if he will burn another Quran.
"It is not part of our agenda to go around the country burning Qurans."
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