NATO withdraws from Afghan ministries amid protests


NATO and Britain have pulled staff out of Afghan government institutions after the killing of two US military advisers took the death toll from raging anti-US protests to around 30.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday’s shooting, saying it was in revenge for the burning of Qurans at a US-run military base — an incident that forced US President Barack Obama to apologise to the Afghan people.
In a day of violence across the country, a UN compound came under attack by thousands of demonstrators in northeastern Kunduz province, but they were driven back when police fired into the crowd, an AFP correspondent said.
Five people were reported killed in the attack, adding to the death toll from five days of often violent protests over the burning of Qurans at the US-run Bagram airbase.
President Hamid Karzai issued a statement urging demonstrators and Afghan security forces to exercise restraint, saying the government was pressing Washington “on the need to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crime”.
The two American military advisors from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were in the interior ministry when “an individual” turned his weapon against them, NATO said, without giving further details.
A government source told AFP the two men were killed by a member of the Afghan police.
“For obvious force protection reasons, I have… taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul,” said General John Allen, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
The Pentagon said the killings were “unacceptable” and called on Afghan authorities to better protect coalition forces and curtail raging violence.
Britain said its embassy was also temporarily withdrawing all civilian mentors and advisors from Afghan government institutions in Kabul.