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UPDATED: 09:15, May 12, 2005
Roundup: Protests over reported US Quran desecration spread in Afghan cities
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To show sympathy with protestors in Jalalabad and condemn the reported abuse of Muslim holy book, the Quran, by US servicemen at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, more Afghans staged protest demonstrations in other cities of the Muslim central Asian state Wednesday.

The bloody protest procession in Nangarhar's provincial capital Jalalabad, which begun Tuesday and was dispersed this afternoon, claimed at least four lives and injuring over 50 others after personnel of law enforcement opened fire.

In their bid to disperse the demonstrators, according to Afghan sources, the US-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and local police opened fire injuring over 50 persons including a lady on the spot, and of these four have succumbed to their injuries at hospital.

Most of the protestors, according to officials, were students of Nangarhar University.

Besides hurling stones on the PRT convoy, the outraged protestors also chanted anti-US and Afghan president slogans like "Down with America," "Death to Bush" and "Death to Karzai."

They also set on fire the effigy of US President Bush and the US national flag.

In addition to Jalalabad, hundreds of people including students took to streets in Wardak, Laghman and Khost provinces to denounce the incident.

According to Newsweek's latest edition, the US servicemen interrogating suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operatives at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had desecrated the Quran by putting at toilet and flushing it into toilets.

Of some 500 detainees languishing at US Naval base prison in Guantanamo Bay, according to media reports, 120 of them are suspected Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda. The majority of them were held after the fall of Taliban regime under US-led military invasion in late 2001.

The sensitive report has provoked Afghans and prompted them to register their outrage by coming out to streets.

In a procession, held in Saidabad district of Wardak province 35 km southwest of the capital today, the demonstrators, in addition to condemning the reported abuse of Holy Quran, demanded punishment for those behind the incident.

"Around 800 students and locals came out to street in Saidabad and blocked the way for half and hour," police chief of the province Basir Salangi told Xinhua.

In the meantime, the locals put the number of protesters much higher and said the road blockade lasted for two hours.

The infuriated people in a similar procession in Khost province denounced the act as an attack on Muslims and called for the trial and punishment of the culprits behind it.

A similar demonstration was also held in Nangarhar's neighboring province Laghman to record their concerns over the issue.

Today's bloody demonstration is taking place amid President Hamid Karzai's tour to Europe and the United States where he would seek further international support to rebuild his country besides exchanging views on the suggestion of establishing US military bases in Afghanistan.

The bloody riot also coincided with Taliban's increasing militancy as the movement's elusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has rejected the government's amnesty offer and recompilation.

Over 100 people, including 25 US servicemen, have been killed in Taliban-related hit-and-run attacks against US-dominated foreign troops and Afghan army over the past two months.

Source: Xinhua

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