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At least nine people have been killed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, officials said on Saturday, on a second day of violent protests over the burning of a Koran by a radical fundamentalist Christian in the United States.

Posted in Oriente Médio, Social & Questões Culturais by Nejme Joma on 02/04/2011

Afeganistão – Reuters

A suicide attack also hit a NATO military base in the capital Kabul, the day after protesters over-ran a UN mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed seven foreign staff, in the deadliest attack on the UN in Afghanistan.

The violence is the worst in Afghanistan for months, and comes as the country gears up for the first stage of a years-long security handover to Afghan troops, and after the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, delivered an optimistic assessment of progress in the war.

Friday’s attack, followed by a series of protests on Saturday, were sparked by the actions of Christian preacher Terry Jones who supervised the burning of the Koran in front of about 50 people at a church in Florida on March 20, according to his website.

The spokesman for the Kandahar governor, Zalmay Ayoubi, said at least nine people were killed and over 70 injured in Saturday’s violence in the city in the spiritual heartland of the Taliban.

Abdul Qayum Pukhla, the senior health official for the province, said some of the dead showed signs they had been beaten and hit with stones.

A band of around 150 men who had taken to the streets to denounce Koran burning set tires alight, smashed up shops and attacked an Afghan photographer, Reuters’ witnesses said.

The reporter was hit over the head and had his camera taken from him and smashed, by protesters who discussed killing him. Police kept other journalists from approaching the crowd, which was shouting slogans including “death to America.”

The spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province said the protest was organized by the Taliban who used the Koran burning as an excuse to incite violence in a city where their reach has been curtailed by an aggressive NATO-led military campaign.

Gunfire still echoed round the city in the afternoon, but it was not clear if anyone other than nervous security forces was still on the streets.

In Kabul on Saturday, a small group of burkha-clad insurgents attacked a coalition base, although they caused only light injuries to three soldiers, police and NATO-led troops said.

More protests are possible across volatile and deeply religious Afghanistan, where anti-Western sentiment has been fueled for years by civilian casualties.

Around 1,000 people protested peacefully in northern Tahar province, said Shah Jahan Noori, provincial police chief.

INSURGENTS OR PROTESTERS?

The Taliban said they had no role in Friday’s assault on the U.N. office in the usually peaceful northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, after both the provincial governor and a senior U.N. official suggested provocateurs among the crowd had sparked or led the vicious attack.

Disponível em: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/02/us-afghanistan-violence-kabul-idUSTRE7310FK20110402

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