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Hitt og þetta 6. febrúar 2006

DJ UPDATE: 2 Killed In Afghan Protest Over Prophet Cartoons

KABUL (AP)--Hundreds of Afghans clashed with police and soldiers Monday during demonstrations against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Two people were killed and at least six were wounded, officials said.

In the central Afghan city of Mihtarlam, police fired on the demonstrators after a man in the crowd shot at them and others threw stones and knives, said Dad Mohammed Rasa, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

Two of the wounded were police - one of whom was stabbed by a thrown knife - while the other two were demonstrators who were shot, and one later died in hospital, officials said. The protesters burned tires and threw stones at the offices of the police and provincial governor.

Meanwhile, about 200 protesters tried to break down the gate of a the Danish government's diplomatic mission office in the capital Kabul, but failed, said police who were guarding the building.

The protesters then threw stones at the mission and beat some officers guarding it, as well some guards at a nearby house used by Belgian diplomats.

Police later used batons and rifle butts to disburse the demonstrators who had walked toward the presidential palace. An Associated Press reporter saw at least three protesters bleeding from injuries, and at least seven more who were arrested and driven away in a police vehicle.

"Long live Islam! We are Muslims! We don't let anyone insult our prophet!" chanted the demonstrators, many of whom appeared to be teenagers. They also chanted, "Down with America!" and slogans against the Afghan and U.S. presidents.

Some protesters moved toward the main American base in city and threw stones that smashed windows of a guard house. Police standing amid the protesters watched but did not intervene.

U.S. soldiers later arrested two photographers outside the base and checked the memory discs of an AP photographer, but did not arrest him. A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Mike Cody, said he had no details about the matter.

The demonstrators also stoned three vehicles belonging to NATO-led peacekeepers that was abandoned along a street in the center of the city.

Some 3,000 people demonstrated peacefully in three other cities. The spreading unrest came day after some 4,000 Afghans took to the streets across the country.

The cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper in September, and more drawings have recently been printed in other European papers, either to illustrate the controversy or demonstrate support for freedom of the press.

But Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet, favorable or otherwise, to prevent idolatry. Protests have erupted in several Muslim nations in the past week.

In the northern town of Taluqan, more than 2,000 people marched through the city and threw stones at a government building and police posts, police commander Gen. Mohammed Zaman said. Police later disbursed the protesters. It was not clear if anyone was injured.

In southern Kandahar city, protesters emerged from a mosque and made their way through a bazaar. Many chanted "Death to Denmark" while carrying white, red and green flags inscribed with "Allah-u-Akbar" or "God is great."

By late morning, the protest swelled to 200 people, including about 40 women - a rare appearance in the conservative city where women normally stay in their homes.

Before the demonstrators dispersed, the mosque's prayer leader, or imam, demanded in a speech that Afghanistan sever diplomatic ties with Denmark.

"We demand of the president and our parliament to recall our ambassador and end all relations with Denmark," the cleric, Mualvi Mohammed Naseem Akhund, said.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires