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300 march in Afghan capital in new cartoon protest

Protests against the 12 cartoons started in Kabul last weekend and gained momentum on Monday when three people were killed.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 18:31 IST

About 300 men marched through the Afghan capital after Friday prayers in a new demonstration against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed after a week of similar protests left at least 11 people dead.

The men, some armed with large wooden sticks, shouted slogans against the United States and European countries where the newspaper cartoons that Muslims say are blasphemous have appeared in several dailies.

Police disarmed and dispersed them, a witness said. Quick reaction force commander General Mahbob Amiri said about 300 men took part in the march.

Protests against the 12 cartoons started in Afghanistan last weekend and gained momentum on Monday when three people were killed, apparently from shots fired by police and by some demonstrators.

A protest in the northwestern city of Maymana on Tuesday became violent when protestors, some of them armed with guns, hurled grenades at a base of Norwegian-led peacekeepers and tried to storm the compound.

Four demonstrators were killed and scores of people hurt, including five Norwegian soldiers.

Another four people were killed Wednesday when a protest in the southern city of Qalat also turned violent, prompting security forces to open fire.

Much of the anger has been targeted at the US-led coalition and NATO forces that have been helping to stabilise Afghanistan since the fall of the hardline Taliban government in a US-led operation four years ago.

A Taliban commander said this week 100 people had enlisted to become suicide bombers since the cartoons appeared.

The movement had offered a bounty of gold for anyone who killed a Danish, German or Norwegian soldier, he said.

NATO said Thursday the cartoon violence had not affected its plan to expand in the coming months into volatile southern Afghanistan, where nearly 70 US soldiers were killed in hostile action last year.

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 18:31 IST