UN pulls staff out of Afghan base
Kabul - The UN pulled its international staff out of their base in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz on Monday after it came under attack by demonstrators protesting the burning of the Qur’an.
The staff will be relocated within Afghanistan, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.
The UN added that it would "put in place additional arrangements and measures to make sure that the office can continue to operate in safety."
The move came after Nato's International Security Assistance Force pulled its staff out of Afghan ministries at the weekend when two US advisors were shot dead in the interior ministry, apparently by an Afghan colleague.
Four demonstrators were killed in the attack on the UN compound on Saturday, as enraged Afghans took to the streets across the country to protest the Qur’an burning at the US airbase at Bagram near Kabul.
"The Unama (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) office in Kunduz will continue to deliver the critical programmes in the region for the people who need them the most," the UN statement said.
"Unama wants to reiterate that the organisation is standing by the people of Afghanistan and will continue to stand as long as the people of Afghanistan want them."
US President Barack Obama apologised for the Qur’an burning, but analysts say the incident has plunged relations between Afghans and the US-led Nato force fighting a Taliban insurgency to an all-time low.
A Taliban suicide car bomber targeting Nato troops at an airport in eastern Afghanistan killed nine people on Monday, taking the death toll from unrest and protests to about 40.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has appealed for calm.
In a televised statement on Sunday, Karzai condemned "with the strongest words" the treatment of Islam's holy book and said the perpetrators should be punished.
But he told his countrymen: "Now that we have shown our feelings it is time to be calm and peaceful."