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Clashes follow Afghan protest over U.S. pastor’s plan to burn Koran

Shouts of “Death to America!” rang out in Afghanistan on Saturday as more than 10,000 demonstrators denounced now-suspended plans by an American pastor to burn the Koran.

The protest in the city of Pul-e-Alam, about 35 miles south of Kabul, the Afghan capital, was initially peaceful but boiled over into violence as some demonstrators set shops ablaze and tried to storm the provincial governor’s compound.

The Logar province police chief, Gen. Mohammad Mustafa Mohseni, said clashes between protesters and security forces continued for several hours. At least three people were injured, provincial officials said.

Similar demonstrations took place a day earlier in several places around Afghanistan, despite the decision by the Florida minister to call off plans to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks with the Koran-burning.

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The pastor’s threat sparked anger across the Muslim world and drew widespread condemnation from diplomats, international organizations, religious figures and world leaders, including President Obama.

Protests also flared for a second day Saturday in Badakhshan province, in Afghanistan’s north. A day earlier, a large demonstration in the provincial capital left nearly a dozen people injured.

Baktash is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Laura King contributed to this report from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


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