U.N. complex attacked on fifth day of protests

Two American members of the NATO force in Afghanistan were shot dead within the Interior Ministry in Kabul on Saturday, military and government sources said, as anti-U.S. protests raged for a fifth day.

“Initial reports indicate an individual turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in Kabul City on Saturday, killing two service members,” NATO said in a statement, without giving further details.

A government source told AFP the two men were American advisors and that they were shot within the Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul by a member of the Afghan police.

Some reports said the shooting was a result of a “verbal clash”.

The shooting came on the fifth day of anti-U.S. protests across Afghanistan over the burning of Korans at an American-run military base, but it was not immediately clear whether the Ministry shooting was related to the demonstrations.

The U.S., which leads a 130,000-strong military force fighting an insurgency in Afghanistan, has advisors throughout the Afghan government.

Two American troops were shot dead on Thursday when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on them at their base in Khogyani in eastern Nangarhar province as demonstrators approached.

Four killed

On Saturday, at least four people were killed in violent protests, including an attack on a United Nations compound, taking the five day death toll from the protests to 28.

The Koran burning has inflamed anti-Western sentiment already smouldering in Afghanistan over abuses by U.S.-led foreign troops, such as the release last month of a video showing U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of dead Afghans.

President Barrack Obama was on Thursday forced to apologise over the burning of Korans at the Bagram U.S. airbase north of Kabul, pledging that those responsible would be held accountable.

Violent anti-U.S. protests have seen furious Afghans attack French, Norwegian and U.S. bases, shouting “death to America” after the Taliban exhorted their countrymen to kill foreign troops to avenge the incident.

There were fresh protests in five different Afghan provinces on Saturday over the burning of the Islamic holy book at the U.S. airbase at Bagram near Kabul.

The worst violence was in north-eastern Kunduz province, where thousands attempted to storm the U.N. complex but failed to get in when police fired into the crowd at around 2:00 p.m. (0930 GMT), an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Officers had so far managed to stop the crowd from entering the compound, police spokesman Sarwar Husaini told AFP, adding that reinforcements were being sent. Sahad Mokhtar, head of the public health department in Kunduz, said: “The report we have so far from hospitals is four killed, 56 wounded in today's demonstrations.”

More In: International | News