03 APR 2011
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - At least 10 people have been killed and 83 wounded in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, officials said on Saturday, on a second day of violent protests over the burning of a Koran by a radical fundamentalist Christian in the United States.
A suicide attack also hit a NATO military base in the capital Kabul, the day after protesters over-ran a U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed seven foreign staff, in the deadliest attack on the UN in Afghanistan.
Some protesters in Kandahar carried white Taliban flags and shouted slogans including "long live the Taliban" and "death to America." In rioting that lasted hours, they smashed shops, burned tires and vandalized a girl's high school.
Two of the dead were Afghan policemen, an official said.
The violence is the worst in Afghanistan for months, and comes as the country gears up for the first stage of a years-long security handover to Afghan troops, and after the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, delivered an optimistic assessment of progress in the war.
The attacks were driven by anger at the actions of extremist Christian preacher Terry Jones who supervised the burning of the Koran in front of about 50 people at a church in Florida on March 20, according to his website.
The burning initially passed relatively unnoticed in Afghanistan, but after criticism from President Hamid Karzai, and calls for justice during Friday sermons, thousands poured into the streets in several cities to denounce Jones this weekend.
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