VOA News April 03, 2011
Officials in southern Afghanistan say two people died and at least 18 others were wounded during a third day of protests against the burning of a Koran by a radical U.S. pastor.
Authorities say the latest casualties occurred in Kandahar Sunday when hundreds of people took to the streets there and in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Most of those injured were wounded when a gas canister caught fire and exploded.
At least 10 people were killed and 83 wounded Saturday in Kandahar after protesters set cars and buildings on fire.
On Friday, a group of people stormed the United Nations complex in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing seven foreign workers.
The protests follow the March 20 burning of a Koran by the head of a small fundamentalist church in the U.S. state of Florida.
The pastor, Terry Jones, made international headlines last year when he announced he intended to burn the Muslim holy book on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. He later canceled those plans after many, including top U.S. officials, urged him against it.
The Koran burning initially received little press coverage in Afghanistan. But after Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the act and religious leaders called for justice in their Friday sermons, thousands took to the streets across Afghanistan in protest.
Jones has denied any responsibility for the violence.
U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the Koran burning, saying the desecration of any holy book, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. But he also said that to attack and kill innocent people in response is "outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity."
The U.N. special representative in Kabul, Staffan de Mistura, said Saturday a group of insurgents had infiltrated Friday's protest and launched the deadly attack.