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| Tuesday, February 14, 2006

BBC Story on Cartoon Flap

        Originally here.

Muslim cartoon fury claims lives

At least five people have been killed in Afghanistan as protests against European cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad swept across the country.

        Two people died when protesters turned on the US airbase at Bagram - although the US has had no involvement with the images, which originated in Denmark.

        Meanwhile in Somalia, a teenage boy died after protesters attacked police.

        Iran announced it was halting trade with Denmark, as protesters pelted the Danish embassy with petrol bombs.

        Police fired tear gas in a bid to keep back hundreds of angry demonstrators, some of whom attempted to scale the wall into the embassy compound.  Earlier, the Austrian embassy in Tehran came under attack.

        The violence follows attacks on Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon over the weekend.  The cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper.

        Tensions continue to escalate around the world:

  • Norway demands compensation from Syria after its embassy in Damascus was set on fire on Saturday

  • The Turkish and Spanish prime ministers make a joint plea for respect and calm in an article in the International Herald Tribune

  • In Indonesia, protesters target the Danish and US consulates in Surabaya, the country's second largest city.  Protests are also held in the capital, Jakarta

  • Riot police in the Indian capital, Delhi, fire tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of student protesters

  • Shops and businesses across Indian-administered Kashmir close after a general strike is called in protest at the drawings

  • In Thailand, protesters shout "God is great" and stamp on Denmark's flag outside the country's embassy in Bangkok, the Associated Press news agency reports

  • There are protests again outside the European Union offices in Gaza, following demonstrations there last week.

'Test our feelings'

        Hundreds of people took part in the morning demonstration in Afghanistan's Laghman province, in a second day of protests in the city.

        Three people died when police fired on protesters after a police station came under attack, a government spokesman said.

        Demonstrators shouted "death to Denmark" and "death to France".  They called for the expulsion of diplomats and soldiers, who were sent by both countries as part of international efforts in the US-led "war on terror".

        "They want to test our feelings," protester Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra told the BBC.

        "They want to know whether Muslims are extremists or not.  Death to them and to their newspapers," he said.

        In Bagram district, a peaceful protest in the morning turned violent when around 300 "bandits and gangsters" tried to enter the US base, local police chief Mawlana Sayed Khel told the BBC.

        A shoot-out with police left two protesters dead, and six police officers injured, he said.

        Elsewhere, hundreds protested in Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and the north-eastern province of Takhar.  Some 200 demonstrators gathered outside the Danish embassy in the capital, Kabul.

        Afghan President Hamid Karzai reiterated his condemnation of the cartoons and called on western nations to take "a strong measure" to ensure such cartoons do not appear again.  "It's not good for anybody," he told CNN.

'Defending freedoms'

        In the autonomous Somali region of Puntland, demonstrators marched through the port city of Bosaso, shouting anti-Western slogans and converging on the UN and international aid agency buildings.

        A 14-year-old boy was reportedly trampled underfoot as police fired into the air to try and disperse an increasingly angry crowd.

        Peaceful protests were held in several other Somali towns.

        The cartoons first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and caused outrage among Muslims, who consider any images of Muhammad offensive.

        One of the cartoons shows Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

        Newspapers across Europe republished the pictures last week, saying they were defending freedom of expression.

        End of Archived Material

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