Afghans protesting the burning of a Qur'an by an obscure U.S. pastor over-ran a UN compound on Friday and killed at least seven international staff in the deadliestever attack on the United Nations in Afghanistan.
Thousands of demonstrators flooded into the streets after Friday prayers and headed for the UN mission in usually peaceful Mazar-i-Sharif, a city considered safe enough to be in the vanguard of a crucial security transition.
The governor of Balkh province said insurgents had used the march as cover to attack the compound, in a battle that raged for hours and raised serious questions about plans to make the city a pilot for security transfer to national forces.
The confirmed dead were three international UN staff and four international Gurkha guards.
In New York, UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told reporters after briefing members of the Security Council who convened an emergency session to discuss the attack, that some of the protesters seemed to be more than demonstrators.