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Angry Afghan Crowd Beats Aid Workers

7 September 2004 -- Hundreds of angry Afghans threw stones and burned the offices of at least two aid agencies in the northeastern city of Faizabad.

The attacks were sparked by rumors that women staff members at the British aid agency Medair had been assaulted and that the Aga Khan Development Network was trying to convert Sunni Muslims to Shi'ism.

Head of the Afghanistan NGO Security Office Nick Downie said today that as many as 10 workers were beaten but he said none were seriously injured.

Downie said the rumors of an assault on the Afghan women started because the women were working in a poorly ventilated building where wheat was being fortified and they became ill.

Local residents thought they had been drugged and abused.

The Aga Khan is the head of the Ismaili sect of Shi'ite Islam and runs a charitable organization.

Most Afghans are Sunni Muslims.