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Deadly Protests Against Quran Burning Spread in Afghanistan


An Afghan National Army soldiers keeps watch after an attack at Camp Phoenix in Kabul April 2, 2011

An Afghan National Army soldiers keeps watch after an attack at Camp Phoenix in Kabul April 2, 2011

At least nine people were killed in southern Afghanistan Saturday in a second day of protests against a Quran burning by a radical Christian church in the United States.

Security forces fired shots into the air to disperse the protesters as they marched through the streets of Kandahar city, setting cars and buildings on fire.

The Saturday riots came a day after a group of people stormed the United Nations complex in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing seven foreign workers.

The U.N. special representative in Kabul, Staffan de Mistura, said Saturday a group of insurgents had infiltrated Friday's protest and launched the deadly attack. He stressed that the attack on the U.N. mission will not deter the world body's presence in the country.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Afghan President Hamid Karzai Saturday to express his shock. He also spoke by telephone with the prime minister of Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal, and the foreign ministers of Norway, Sweden and Romania to express his deep condolences on the deaths of their citizens in the attack.

Commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General David Petraeus, joined Mr. Karzai, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the international community in strongly condemning Friday's killings.

Also Saturday, NATO officials said insurgents wearing women's clothing attacked a coalition base in Kabul.

NATO said three militants - two of them suicide bombers - were killed in the attack and three NATO service members were slightly wounded.

In eastern Kunar province, two NATO air weapons teams supporting ground troops killed numerous insurgents.

On Friday, coalition forces confirmed that a joint Afghan-NATO unit killed a known Taliban suicide attack network leader in northern Kunduz province. A coalition statement says the insurgent was directly responsible for the February 21 suicide attack against a district governor's office that killed 29 civilians and one police officer, and wounded 36 other civilians.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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