KABUL - At least five people were killed Wednesday, February 22, in a second day of Afghan protests against the burning of copies of the Noble Qur'an at a NATO's main base in Afghanistan.
Death to America! and Death to (President Hamid) Karzai, shouted thousands of angry protestors on the outskirts of the capital Kabul, Reuters reported.
Thousands of Afghans took to the streets in several Afghan cities for the second day to protest the burning of the Qur'an at the Bagram airbase in Kabul.
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In Parwan province, home to the sprawling Bagram airbase, three people were shot dead by Afghan police and 13 wounded while attacking offices.
"The protests got violent. They attacked police with rocks and in a clash between police and protesters three people were killed and over 10 others are injured," provincial spokesman Roshan Khalid told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
A protester was shot dead by police in Logar province, east of the capital, the governor's spokesman, Deen Mohammad Darwish, told Reuters.
One person also died in hospital in Kabul from gunshot wounds received during one of two shooting incidents at protests in at least four areas of the capital.
In the eastern city of Jalalabad, students set fire to an effigy of US President Barack Obama, while the US embassy in Kabul declared it was on lockdown.
Twenty-one people, including 11 policemen, were also wounded in the capital, said Mohammad Zahir, head of Kabul police's crimes unit.
The fury started after Afghan laborers found charred copies of the Qur'an while collecting rubbish at the Bagram airbase.
The White House apologized Tuesday for the Qur'an burning, describing the incident deeply unfortunate.
"It does not represent the views of our military," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
"And it certainly does not represent the conduct of our men and women in uniform or our general respect for the religious practices and beliefs of the Afghan people."
Muslims consider the Qur'an the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence.
Protestors say that the US desecration of their holy book pushes many Afghans to join the Taliban.
"When the Americans insult us to this degree, we will join the insurgents," Ajmal, an 18-year-old protester in Kabul, told Reuters.
Demonstrators set fire to part of a housing compound used by foreign contract workers.
A Reuters witness said the fire damaged part of a guesthouse at the Green Village complex, where 1,500 mostly foreign contractors live and work.
In Jalalabad, demonstrators praised the Taliban leader, the secretive Mullah Mohammad Omar, screaming "Long live Mullah Omar!," Reuters witnesses said.
The Taliban, ousted by the US invasion in 2001, are engaged in guerilla warfare with the US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Outrage also spilled over in the Afghan parliament, where several members shouted "death to America" inside the legislative chamber.
Similar incidents in the past have caused deep divisions and resentment among Afghans towards the tens of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Seven foreign UN workers were killed during protests that raged across Afghanistan for three days in April 2011 after a US pastor burned the Qur'an in Florida.
Qur'an desecration has been an incendiary issue in Afghanistan and Iraq in past years.
Last January, eight Afghan demonstrators were killed and 13 others injured in protests after foreign troops reportedly desecrated the Qur'an during a raid.In 2008, a US soldier was removed from Iraq after using a copy of the Qur'an as a target in a shooting practice, riddling the Muslim holy book with bullets.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net