Two UN staff beheaded and five others murdered in protest against U.S. pastor who burnt Koran

  • Koran burning pastor says 'The time has come to hold Islam accountable'
  • U.N. sources say final death toll could rise as high as 20
  • Taliban behind attacks, reports suggest
  • Demonstrators at the burnings take place across the Middle East
  • One of the dead is a 53-year-old female Norwegian pilot
  • Mastermind behind attacks - a known militant - arrested say Afghan police
  • Afghan authorities suspect insurgents blended into protesters
  • Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish and Nepalese nationals among those killed
At least seven United Nations staff were murdered - two by beheading - after extremists stormed their compound in northern Afghanistan today.
According to reports, protesters in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif beheaded two U.N. guards, seized their weapons and began shooting those inside the compound after a demonstration against Koran burnings in the U.S. turned violent.
Reports emerged tonight that the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were part of a campaign of violence in the run up to presidential elections.
The bloodshed is the worst attack on the U.N. in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.
Victim: The first named victim is 53-year-old Norwegian pilot Lt. Col Siri Skare who was working as a UN military advisor in the country
Victim: The first named victim is 53-year-old Norwegian pilot Lt. Col Siri Skare who was working as a UN military advisor in the country
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At least four Afghan workers were also killed and officials fear the total death toll could rise to 20.
The rampage began when over a thousand protesters flooded into the streets after Friday prayers where they heard reports about the Koran burnings in America last month.
After slaying the guards, the armed mob scaled the compound's blast walls before setting fire to a guard tower and several other buildings.
An Afghan police source, who asked not to be named, said the chief of the mission in the city was wounded but survived.
Among those murdered were Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish and Nepalese nationals. Two were decapitated, it is understood.
And tonight pastor Terry Jones, the man many hold responsible for instigating the wave of protests, remained defiant over his decision to hold the Koran burning, saying it was time for 'Islam to be held accountable'.
He said: 'We must hold these countries and people accountable for what they have done as well as for any excuses they may use to promote their terrorist activities. The time has come to hold Islam accountable.
'Our United States government and our President must take a close, realistic look at the radical element Islam. Islam is not a religion of peace.
'We demand action from the United Nations. Muslim dominated countries can no longer be allowed to spread their hate against Christians and minorities.
Enlarge   Protest: Thousands of protectors flooded the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif chanting anti-American slogans before the violence broke out
Protest: Thousands of protectors flooded the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif chanting anti-American slogans before the violence broke out
Attack: Smoke billows from the UN headquarters after protesters attacked the compound in Mazar-i-Sharif
Attack: Smoke billows from the UN headquarters after protesters attacked the compound in Mazar-i-Sharif

'They must alter the laws that govern their countries to allow for individual freedoms and rights, such as the right to worship, free speech, and to move freely without fear of being attacked or killed.'
Firebrand: Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn a koran last year and carried the threat out last month
Firebrand: Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn a koran last year and carried the threat out last month
They were protesting at last week's ceremonial burning of a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida.
The controversial pastor triggered international outrage last year when he urged Americans to burn the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

He relented following an intervention by President Obama but on March 21 he and pastor Wayne Sapp finally carried out their threat.
After Sapp set fire to the text, he let it burn for ten minutes.
Mohammad Azim, a businessman in Mazer-i-Sharif, said that before the violence, clerics with loudspeakers had driven around the city in two cars to invite residents to the protest.
As the violent mobs dissipated this evening, reports of the UN dead began to trickle in.
The Norwegian Defence Ministry said one of the victims was Lt. Col Siri Skare, a 53-year-old female pilot.
A Swede and four U.N, guards from Nepal were also killed. The nationality of the seventh victim has not been released.
According to Afghan officials it looks increasingly likely that the attacks were carried out by insurgents who had blended into the angry crowds.
This evening Afghan police said they had arrested the suspected mastermind behind the attack.
Fight: It appears guards at the U.N. compound fought back injuring Afghan's who attacked the base
Fight: It appears guards at the U.N. compound fought back injuring Afghan's who attacked the base
Suspects: Afghan officials suspect those who attacked the base were insurgents who had blended into the angry crowd before carrying out the violence
Suspects: Afghan officials suspect those who attacked the base were insurgents who had blended into the angry crowd before carrying out the violence
Hysteria: Preachers rode around after Friday prayers encouraging the population to join protests directed against foreign forces in the country
Hysteria: Preachers rode around after Friday prayers encouraging the population to join protests directed against foreign forces in the country

Rawof Taj, deputy police chief in Balkh province, said this evening he was one of more than 20 people arrested after the violence.
Taj said the suspected mastermind was from Kapisa province, a hotbed of the insurgency about 250 miles south east of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Staffan De Mistura, the top UN representative in Afghanistan, was heading to Mazar-i-Sharif to handle the matter personally.

Bloody day for UN as up to 10 dead

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan was established on 28 March, 2002 and is headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura.
The mission has 23 field offices throughout Afghanistan - split into eight regional offices and 15 provincial offices.
Of the 1,500 staff attached to the mission, around 80 per cent are Afghan nationals.
There are two key elements to the UN mission, the Political element, which among other duties oversees elections in the country and the Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction element which looks after re-building the country's infrastructure.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Nairobi that the attack was 'outrageous and cowardly'.
The worst previous attack was in 2009 in an insurgent assault on a guesthouse where UN staff were staying. Five UN staffers were killed and nine others wounded.
In October 2010, several militants were killed when they attempted to ambush the UN compound in Herat dressed in burkas worn by women.
General Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in several northern provinces, said those killed included five Nepalese guards who were working for the UN and two other foreigners employed at the complex.
A UN spokesman confirmed that workers had been killed at the mission, but he said the situation on the ground was still confusing and it was difficult to 'ascertain facts'.

Wounded: Afghans carry a man wounded by security guards when protesters attacked the UN headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif
Wounded: Afghans carry a man wounded by security guards when protesters attacked the UN headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif
Pakistani women shout slogans during a protest against the controversial US Pastor Terry Jones, in Karachi, Pakistan today
Outrage: Pakistani women shout slogans during a protest against the controversial US Pastor Terry Jones, in Karachi, Pakistan today
The deaths are a major setback for the U.N. and international forces who want the Afghan government to take control of its own security by 2014.
Only last week President Hamid Karzai said the city of Mazar-i-Sharif would be one of the first areas handed over to Afghan control this year.
Simmering anger at the burnings finally erupted  across the Middle East today.
Thousands of demonstrators marched through the western Afghan city of Herat.
There, protesters burned a U.S. flag at a sports stadium and chanted 'Death to the US' and 'They broke the heart of Islam'.

Around 200 also protested near the U.S. embassy in Kabul. Both protests remained relatively peaceful.
Demonstrations against the Koran burning also took place in Pakistan today.
Women representing the Working Women Welfare Trust marched through the streets of Karachi voicing their anger against Pastor Jones.
Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement calling the burning a 'crime against a religion'.
He denounced it as a 'disrespectful and abhorrent act' and called on the U.S. and the UN to bring to justice those who burned the holy book and issue a response to Muslims around the world.
He also said Mazar-i-Sharif would be one of the first parts of the war-torn country that Afghan security would take from Nato forces.


The man behind Burn a Koran Day: Pastor Terry Jones
The shocking killings in Afghanistan today were triggered by anger at the burning earlier this month of a copy of the Koran at a church in Florida.
The controversial ceremony was carried out by pastor Wayne Sapp and preacher Terry Jones.
Mr Jones first came to worldwide attention when he started a Facebook campaign calling for people around the world to set fire to copies of the Koran on last year's ninth anniversary of 9/11.
He dubbed it International Burn a Koran Day.

Controversy: Pastor Terry Jones, pictured last September, gained worldwide attention after he planned to burn a Koran
Controversy: U.S. Pastor Terry Jones, pictured last September, gained worldwide attention after he planned to burn a Koran
It was only after the intervention of President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he went back on his vow to burn the Koran.
He said later that he planned to burn 'a few hundred Korans' in a bonfire on church property and that he was expecting a crowd of 'several hundred' but believed others would burn the books on their own. 
On March 21 this year, he finally carried out his threat. A copy of the Koran was burned in front of a crowd of 30 people outside his church. Beforehand, he held a bizarre mock trial and execution of the Holy Book before fellow pastor Wayne Sapp doused it in gasoline and set fire to it.
He claimed he went back on his word because he has been trying to give the 'Muslim world an opportunity to defend their book' but received no response from them.
A former hotel manager, Jones worked as a missionary in Europe for 30 years before he took over as head of the Dove World Outreach Center, a fundamentalist Christian church in Gainesville, Florida.
He and his wife Sylvia were asked to leave Germany, where they had set up a 100-strong congregation in Cologne.
One of his three children accused them of 'financial and labour abuses' and said that 'the workforce was comprised of the Jones' disciples, who work for no wages and live cost-free in tatty properties owned by the couple'.
His daughter Emma still lives in Germany and has no contact with her father but it was reported she emailed him at the time of the Koran burning threats to ask him to stop.
A protestant church official in Cologne said he had a 'delusional personality'.
He also runs an antique and used furniture store on the grounds of the church.
A former employee who was sacked and expelled from the church later revealed that punishments for disobedience in the church included carrying a life-size wooden cross or writing out all of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible as well as cleaning the barnacles off his boat in Tampa.
He penned the book Islam Is The Devil and the phrase is frequently used on billboards around the church's property.
In August 2009, two children, a ten-year-old and a 15-year-old, who belong to Jones' church, were sent to school wearing T-shirts that read 'Islam Is of the Devil'. They were sent home for dress code violations.
Jones believes Islam promotes violence and that Muslims want to impose Sharia law in the United States.
He and his wife allegedly learned what they know about Sharia law by watching videos on YouTube and he admitted in the past he had never actually spoken to a Muslim person before.
He calls himself a doctor and claims he was awarded an honorary doctorate of theology degree from the California Graduate School of Theology in Rosemead in 1983 but the university has never confirmed this.
According to ABC, he is often seen on the church's 20-acre compound with a pistol strapped to his hip. 
 
 
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