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Afghans lob grenades at US base,7 of NATO hurt

The incident has swiftly spiraled out of control leaving dozens of people dead

Written by Associated Press | Kabul | Published: February 27, 2012 12:56:12 am

Protesters angry over Quran burnings by US troops lobbed grenades at a US base in northern Afghanistan and clashed with police and troops in a day of violence that left seven international troops wounded and two Afghans dead.

The top US diplomat in the country said the spike in tensions and violence,including the killing of two American military advisers Saturday at an Afghan ministry,would not diminish Washington’s commitment to the region. “Tensions are running very high here and I think we need to let things calm down,return to a more normal atmosphere,and then get on with business,’’ Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN’s State of the Union.

Sunday’s violence was the latest in six days of riots across the country by Afghans furious at the way some Qurans at a US base outside of Kabul were disposed of in a burn pit. The incident has swiftly spiraled out of control leaving dozens of people dead,including four US troops.

Afghan authorities have launched a manhunt across the country for the Afghan behind the killing of two US military advisers a day earlier. Authorities said Sunday they believed an Afghan police intelligence officer may have been involved in the shooting,prompting NATO to recall all its staff from ministries.

Abdul Saboor,25,was the main suspect in the killing,which took place at close range inside the heavily fortified ministry in Kabul,senior security sources said on condition of anonymity.

In Kunduz province,thousands of demonstrators started out protesting peacefully but then the group turned violent as they tried to enter the district’s largest city,said Amanuddin Quriashi,district administrator. People in the crowd fired on police and threw grenades at a US base on the city outskirts,he said. Seven NATO troops were wounded. A NATO spokesman said that an explosion occurred outside the base,but the grenades did not breach its defenses.

Germany pulls experts from ministries
Germany has followed NATO and Britain in temporarily withdrawing its experts from ministries in Kabul following the killing of two US military advisers at the Afghan Interior Ministry. The Development Ministry said the government decided Sunday to pull about 50 German experts and other international advisers working on its behalf out of ministries and government buildings in the Kabul area. France too was making preparations to withdraw non-military personnel from Afghanistan. A foreign ministry spokesman said several hundred people would be concerned.

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