JNN 01 Apr 2011 : At least eight foreigners were among the dead after attackers took out security guards, burned parts of the compound and climbed up blast walls to topple a guard tower, said Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a police spokesman for the northern region.
Five protesters were also killed and around 20 wounded.
The governor of Balkh province said insurgents had used the march as cover to attack the compound, in a battle that raged for several hours and raises serious questions about plans to make the city a pilot for security transfer to national forces.
“The insurgents have taken advantage of the situation to attack the UN compound,” said Governor Ata Mohammad Noor.
He told a news conference that many in the crowd of protesters had been carrying guns. Almost 30 people have already been detained over the attack, he added.
Afghan police and army, who the United Nations rely on for their first line of defence, were apparently unable to control the crowd. German troops are also stationed in Balkh, and the NATO-led coalition said they had received a request for help.
“Eight foreigners were killed, and two were beheaded,” Ahmadzai said.
A U.N. spokesman confirmed that employees had been killed but declined to comment on numbers of dead or their nationalities. He said the attack would not push the United Nations out of Afghanistan.
“We need to secure our colleagues in Mazar-i-Sharif. It’s not a question of us pulling out. The U.N. is here to stay,” said spokesman Kieran Dwyer.
Staffan De Mistura, the top UN diplomat in Afghanistan, has flown to Mazar-i-Sharif to handle the situation personally.