South Asia News
Three killed in Afghan protests against Koran burning
Apr 3, 2011, 14:06 GMT
Kabul - Three people, include a policeman, died Sunday as violent demonstrations continued across Afghanistan to protest the burning of a copy of the Koran last month in the United States.
Dozens more were injured in the protests, which brought hundreds to the street in the southern province of Kandahar, Zulmai Ayoubi the provincial governor's spokesman said.
'Two civilians were killed when a gas cylinder exploded that was torched by the protesters in a police post,' Ayoubi said, adding that 40 people were injured in protests that lasted for hours.
A policeman also died in the hospital from wounds sustained during the demonstration, while another injured policeman is reportedly in critical condition, the spokesman said.
At Kandahar University, students also staged a protest.
Ayoubi also said that security forces were ordered to secure protesters and stop 'opportunists and enemies' infiltrating demonstrations.
Seven United Nations workers and five Afghans were killed on Friday when an angry mob overran the UN compound in Mazar-e-Sharif. And on Saturday, nine protesters were killed and 81 injured in a similar protest against the Koran burning, which took place March 21 in the US state of Florida.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday the US president, the Senate and the Congress should condemn the act in clear words, make their stance clear on such incidents and prevent further such actions.
Karzai made the comment during the joint national security meeting with the US ambassador and top NATO commanders in Afghanistan, a statement issued by presidential palace said.
Elsewhere, in Panjwaee district, also in Kandahar province, the protest on Sunday turned violent after demonstrators started pelting stones at the Afghan police forces. Three policemen were slightly injured, Ayobi said.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 people took to the streets in five different provinces of the country on Sunday, the Interior Ministry reported.
In the eastern province of Nangarhar, hundreds of university students demonstrated in the provincial capital Jalalabad on Sunday, calling on the international community to bring to justice those responsible for burning the Koran, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the governor said.
The other provinces that saw street protests Sunday were Kapisa, Parwan and Badakhshan in north and north-eastern Afghanistan. There were no reports of violence in those protests.
Karzai on Saturday had said people should 'not let opportunists and enemies of Afghanistan misuse them and take advantage.' He also instructed security forces to ensure that the protests did not turn violent.
On Saturday President Barack Obama condemned both the Koran burning and the escalating violence in response.
'The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry,' Obama said. 'However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity.'
'No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act,' he said.
Obama pleaded for restoration of a sense of the 'common humanity' that brought the UN workers to Afghanistan.
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