Anger over Quran burning spreads in Afghanistan; 9 dead

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“The U.N. is absolutely committed to remaining in Afghanistan to ensure that the Afghan people receive all the support they deserve from the U.N.,” McNorton said.

Karzai’s office said the president spoke on the telephone Saturday morning with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Karzai asked the secretary-general to extend his condolences to the families of the slain U.N. workers.

He also called on the U.N. to help promote religious tolerance throughout the world to ease friction between people of different faiths. Karzai said Afghan officials were investigating the U.N. attack and would bring the perpetrators to justice.

In Florida, Wayne Sapp, a pastor at the church, called the events “tragic,” but said he did not regret the actions of his church.

“I in no way feel like our church is responsible for what happened,” Sapp said in a telephone interview on Friday.Afghan authorities suspect insurgents melded into the mob outside the U.N. compound and they announced the arrest of more than 20 people, including a militant they suspect was the ringleader of the assault. The suspect was an insurgent from Kapisa province, a hotbed of militancy about 250 miles (400 kilometers) southeast of the city, said Rawof Taj, deputy provincial police chief.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid sent a text message to The Associated Press on Saturday denying that the insurgency was responsible for killing the U.N. workers.

Demonstrators have alleged that the four protesters were killed by Afghan security forces. Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said Saturday that a delegation of high-ranking Afghan officials was being sent to the city to investigate what happened during the demonstration in which seven vehicles, including a police vehicle, were burned.

“When the demonstration started, the number of people increased every minute to around 5,000,” Bashary said. “The police did take action, but we are investigating how these casualties occurred. Were the steps and actions by police adequate or not?”

Bashary also gave reporters details of Saturday’s attack on NATO’s Camp Phoenix, a base on the east side of Kabul that’s used to train Afghan security forces.

He said three armed insurgents wearing suicide bomb vests arrived at a main gate at the base around 6:45 a.m. Two of the attackers opened fire and then detonated their vests of explosives, Bashary said. The third opened fire and was killed by NATO forces. The body of a fourth person, an Afghan man at the scene, has not been identified. Three NATO service members were injured.

The gate at the base was scorched from the explosions. An AP reporter at the scene saw the remains of at least one of the attackers dangling from the gate. Police officer Mohammad Shakir told the AP that two suicide bombers were clad in blue burqas, the all-encompassing coverings worn by many women in Afghanistan.

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Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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