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The World

April 3, 2011

Afghan Quran-burning protests enter third day

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida entered a third day with a demonstrations in the south and east Sunday, while the Taliban called on people to rise up, blaming government forces for any violence.

The desecration at a small U.S. church has outraged Muslims worldwide, and in Afghanistan many of the demonstrations have turned into deadly riots. Protests in the north and south in recent days have killed 20 people.

In southern Kandahar city on Sunday, hundreds took to the streets for the second day in a row, and hospital officials said 20 people were hurt in skirmishes between police and demonstrators. On Saturday, nine people were killed and 80 injured when a protest turned into a riot.

At least two wounded police officers and 18 civilians had been brought into city hospitals, said Qayum Pokhla the provincial health director.

A morning protest in Jalalabad city was peaceful, with hundreds of people blocking a main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave and burning an effigy of President Barack Obama before dispersing, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene.

A similar protest in eastern Parwan province blocked a main highway with burning tires for about an hour, with more than 1,000 people protesting against the desecration of the Quran, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani. He said there was no violence.

The violence started Friday when demonstrators stormed a U.N. compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing 11 people including seven foreign U.N. employees.

The Taliban said in a statement emailed to media outlets that the U.S. and other Western countries have wrongly excused the burning a Quran by the pastor of a Florida church on March 20 as freedom of speech and that Afghans "cannot accept this un-Islamic act."

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