Afghan president appeals for calm after violent protests
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The president of Afghanistan is appealing for calm, amid continued protests over the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. military base.
The protests brought clashes today in several cities between Afghan security forces and demonstrators. Seven people were killed.
In a statement, President Hamid Karzai said Afghans "have the right to protest peacefully," but he urged them "not to resort to violence." He said he shares the pain of the Afghan people over the Quran desecration, but he asked that they wait for the end of an investigation into the incident.
Thousands of protesters who gathered in Kabul chanted "Death to America," hurled rocks and set tires on fire outside a complex that is home to foreign contractors, police and some coalition military forces.
The U.S. apologized yesterday for burning the copies of the Quran. They had been pulled from the shelves of a detention facility because detainees had put extremist messages or inscriptions in them.
The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan says the books were mistakenly given to troops to be burned at a garbage pit.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)