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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-324589 Afghan Riots (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=5/12/05

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=AFGHAN RIOTS (L-O)

NUMBER=2-324589

BYLINE=BENJAMIN SAND

DATELINE=ISLAMABAD

CONTENT=

HEADLINE: Anti-US Demonstrations Spread in Afghanistan

INTRO: Violent anti-American protests continue to roil Afghanistan, days after a magazine report alleged U.S. soldiers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba desecrated copies of the Koran. U.S. officials have expressed outrage over the possible misconduct in Cuba, but as VOA's Benjamin Sand reports from Islamabad, three more people were killed Thursday as the violence continued.

TEXT: The demonstrations, which started Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan, spread to other parts of the country.

Hundreds of students in Kabul burned U.S. flags and chanted "death to America" while police and national security forces looked on.

In neighboring Wardak province, officials say protesters set fire to an ammunition depot and attacked government offices.

Government spokesman Latfullah Mashal says insurgent groups are trying to intensify the conflict.

/// MASHAL ACT ///

"Some terrorist elements and enemies of peace and stability use these demonstrations to attack the government."

/// END ACT ///

In eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, four people were killed and at least 70 others injured in Jalalabad, when police opened fire on rioters as they ransacked government, diplomatic and U.N. offices.

The United Nations, whose offices in Afghanistan are known by the acronym UNAMA [United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan], said the Afghan security forces in Jalalabad showed courage and professionalism as they confronted the violent protesters.

U.N. Spokeswoman Ariane Quentier spoke to reporters Thursday.

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"UNAMA calls on local authorities and international forces to do everything in their power to reduce tensions and allow for a swift and complete restoration of law and order."

/// END ACT ///

The protests stem from a Newsweek magazine report alleging U.S. soldiers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba threw a copy of the Islamic holy book into a toilet to upset a prisoner being interrogated.

The U.S. government is investigating and called the action, if true, repugnant and anathema to the American people.

There is mounting concern that the demonstrations could spread further on Friday, the Muslim holy day when large groups typically gather to offer prayer. The government is appealing for calm. (SIGNED)

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