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NATO confirmed that two service members were killed, but spokesman Lt. Col Jimmie Cummings said “initial reports say it was not a Western shooter.” He declined to provide further information.

A U.S. official in Washington confirmed that the two killed were Americans. The official spoke anonymously because the information has not been publicly released.

Tensions between the Afghans and the Americans already were high following the Quran burnings. Anti-American sentiment has been on the rise in the war-weary country, and several foreign troops have been killed by Afghan soldiers in recent months. Some of those shootings have been blamed on personal hostilities, while others have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators.

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the gunman was an insurgent named Abdul Rahman. He said an accomplice inside the ministry helped him get inside the compound. He said the killings were a planned response to the Quran burnings.

“After the attack, Rahman informed us by telephone that he was able to kill four high-ranking American advisers,” Mujahid said. The Taliban frequently exaggerate casualty claims.

In Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province in northeast Afghanistan, more than 1,000 protesters demonstrated against the Koran burnings. At first they were peaceful, but as the protest continued they began throwing stones at government buildings and a U.N. office, said Sarwer Hussaini, a spokesman for the provincial police. He said the police were firing into the air to try to disperse the crowd.

Dr. Saad Mukhtar, health department director in Kunduz, said at least three protesters died and 50 others were injured during the melee.

The U.N. confirmed in a statement that its Kunduz compound was attacked, but said all its staff in Kunduz and in the rest of the country were unhurt and safe.

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Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Kabul and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.