Hundreds of angry demonstrators gathered in Afghanistan's capital to protest the planned burning of the holy Koran by a US pastor. Police fired gunshots to disperse the crowds who were chanting anti-American slogans.
Afghans burn an effigy of pastor Terry Jones during a demonstration
Police said hundreds of protestors had marched from the western part of Kabul towards the city centre. Some were even waving the Taliban flag. Deputy police chief of Kabul, Khalil Dastyar, said that 35 police officers and at least five civilians were wounded when police tried to control the violent mob. The situation is now under control and the protestors have been dispersed.
Planned Koran burning creates unrest
The protests began last weekend following the announcement by a pastor in Gainsville,Texas, that he would organise the burning of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. At least three demonstrators have been killed and dozens have been injured in several provinces of Afghanistan since then. In Wednesday's protest, the demonstrators chanted " Death to America" and "Death to Karzai". Police also confirmed that some people were waving the Taliban flag.
Preparing for elections in Sar-e-Pol province
Several observers had warned that the Taliban might try and exploit these protests. A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabibullah Mujahid, has however denied any Taliban involvement in the demonstrations.
Heavy security ahead of polls
Tensions are on the rise ahead of the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan scheduled for Saturday, September 18. Afghan military commanders have meanwhile said that an exhaustive security plan has been put into operation ahead of the elections. The Operational Chief of the Afghan Army, General Afzal Aman, said that more than 60,000 troops have been deployed solely for election security. More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the elections at regional and national level.
The Taliban claims that the elections are a fraud. It is believed that the Taliban is behind the killing of three candidates after the banned organization warned that anyone involved in the vote would be a potential target.
Editor: Grahame Lucas