UN vows business as usual despite deadly Afghan attack

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The UN vowed an attack that left seven of its staff dead amid fresh protests over a Koran burning in the US would not derail its work in Afghanistan during a "crucial period" for the nation.

The attack in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif came during a demonstration on Friday against the burning of the Muslim holy book and was followed by demonstrations in southern Kandahar that left 10 people dead.

The assault on the UN compound raises fresh concerns over plans by President Hamid Karzai and the international coalition to hand control of security in Mazar-i-Sharif, along with six more areas, to Afghan forces from July 1.

Friday's attack on the UN was the worst in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled in 2001 but special representative Staffan de Mistura vowed the organization's work in Afghanistan would not be affected.

"This should not deter the UN presence, activities, in this country in this delicate and particularly crucial period," he said.

The remaining foreign staff from the compound, which was set ablaze in the mob attack, would be temporarily moved to Kabul, he said, but would return as soon as a secure office was established in Mazar-i-Sharif.

"This is not an evacuation. We will watch and monitor the situation everywhere in the country... and I will then decide on relocations inside the country not outside the country depending on the circumstances," he said.

Before Friday's violence Afghanistan condemned the "disrespectful and abhorrent" burning of the Koran at the Dove World Outreach Center, an evangelical church in Florida, calling it an effort to incite tension between religions.

De Mistura called the Koran burning an "insane and totally despicable gesture".

US President Barack Obama condemned the killings while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it was "an outrageous and cowardly attack".

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