„There is no God but Allah“ – this statement saved Pavel Ershov´s life on Friday afternoon when an angry mob of several hundred Afghans stormed a United Nations compound in the Northern Afghan city of Mazar i-Sharif. Earlier that day, a preacher in the local mosque had told the worshippers, an American had burnt the Holy Quran on March 20.
This lecture was followed by outraged Afghans attacking the foreigners in the nearby UNAMA bureau. The Nepalese guards couldn´t stop the mob from entering the compound, hunting for Westeners. Former Russian diplomat Ershov confronted the armed attackers. „Are you Muslim?“, they asked him. He lied, said the Shahada, the declaration of faith, and was then beaten but not killed by the protesters.
Instead the mob killed four Nepalese security staff and three other foreigners – a Swedish lawyer, a Romanian political advisor and a Norwegian female pilot. Additionally, four Afghans lost their lifes in Mazar i-Sharif´s bloody Friday.
Read more about the deadly attack on the UN in Dion Nissenbaum´s and Maria Abi Habib´s excellent Wall Street Journal piece „Inside the Massacre at Afghan Compound“