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Sunday, April 3, 2011

UN Workers Murdered in Afghanistan

Staffan de Mistura

An angry mob stormed the UN compound in Northern Afghanistan after prayers on Friday, stirred up over a church in Florida who burnt the Quran. Terrified UN workers tried to run and hide but they were hunted down and brutally murdered. There were seven bodies altogether, three UN staff members and four UN Nepalese guards. Four Afghan protesters were also killed in the riot.

Staffan de Mistura, head of the UN's Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said he placed direct blame on those who burned a copy of the Muslim holy book in Gainesville, Florida, last month. I wonder why he doesn't place the blame directly on the people who murdered them.

Around 3,000 angry demonstrators overran the U.N. compound and overpowered the guards. They set fire to cars and an electric generator in the compound so the bunker was dark. It was the only safe place for the four foreign U.N. workers there at the time, including the Russian chief of mission. But the door of the bunker was made to withstand a bomb attack, not the sheer force of an angry mob of people.

When they forced their way inside, they saw Pavel Ershov, the mission chief who is fluent in Dari, one of two languages spoken in Afghanistan. They beat him, but stopped after he convinced them, in Dari, that he was a Muslim. "He spoke the language and tried to draw their attention on himself," the envoy said. "For a moment, he hoped that they would think there was nobody else there." But using a light, they found the three other foreigners, pulled them out and killed them one after the other. Two died of bullet wounds, the third with a knife to the throat.

They were identified as Joakim Dungel, a 33-year-old Swedish human rights worker, Lt. Col. Siri Skare, a 53-year-old female pilot from Norway and Filaret Motco, a 43-year-old Romanian.

De Mistura said he was concerned that people in the west would now argue against continued involvement in the Afghan war but insisted the U.N. would not be leaving. However, he was in the process of sending eleven UN workers away from the town and back to Kabul.