CBS News & Associated Press – 2010-09-13 23:21:34
Afghans Attack NATO Base in Quran Burning Protest
(September 10, 2010) — Afghans in a remote northern part of the country attempted to breach security Friday at a NATO base in an apparent demonstration against a Florida church’s tentative plan to burn Qurans on Sept. 11, sparking a fight with local security that reportedly left as many as three people dead.
Brig. Gen. Hussain Safawy, the acting police chief of Badakhshan, told CBS News’ Fazul Rahim that a peaceful protest march after Friday prayers at the local Mosque turned tense as the demonstrators reached the German-controlled base.
Safawy said protesters broke down the first perimeter gate surrounding the base and beat Afghan security guards and police on duty with sticks. The police fired warning shots in the air before allegedly receiving fire from the direction of the crowd.
Police officers then returned fire, Safawy said. Five protesters and two police were injured in the melee, but Safawy was unable to confirm media reports that as many as three protesters were killed in the gunfire.
He told Rahim that the German troops stationed at the base never became involved in the clashes, remaining at all times behind the outpost’s interior perimeter.
CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports there were also protests against Gainesville Rev. Terry Jones’ plan to burn the Qurans in Afghanistan’s capital city. In north Kabul, the main road was blocked for a couple hours by a small demonstration which remained peaceful.
Meanwhile, appearing on CBS’ “The Early Show” Friday, Rev. Jones said the planned bonfire was on hold, “right now.”
Afghan President Criticizes Anti-terror Strategy
KABUL, Afghanistan (August 30, 2010) — President Hamid Karzai has again criticized coalition strategy in fighting Afghanistan’s stubborn insurgency, saying it has thus far produced nothing but civilian deaths.
The sharp comments delivered Sunday fit a pattern of greater outspokenness by the Afghan leader as he appeals for support among the beleaguered Afghan public.
In a meeting Sunday with visiting German Parliament speaker Norbert Lammert, Karzai said there was a “serious need” to alter strategy against the Taliban and other groups linked to al-Qaida, the presidential office said.
“There should be a review of the strategy in the fight against terrorism, because the experience of the last eight years showed that the fight in the villages of Afghanistan has been ineffective apart from causing civilian casualties,” Karzai was quoted as saying.
Karzai’s statements come at a time when the Obama administration is ratcheting up pressure on the Afghan leader to do more to stamp out corruption. The Afghan government maintains that the US should instead focus more on other fronts, including pressuring Pakistan to shut down insurgent sanctuaries.
Last week, Karzai also criticized the US plan to begin withdrawing troops starting next July and said the war on terror cannot succeed as long as the Taliban and their allies maintain safe havens in Pakistan.
In other comments, Karzai thanked Lammert for German assistance in rebuilding the Afghanistan’s battered infrastructure and asked him to encourage German companies to invest in the country, especially in its promising mining sector, the presidential office said.
Germany maintains more than 4,500 troops in Afghanistan, based in the northern provinces of Kunduz and Badakhshan where the Taliban has stepped up attacks as part of an apparent strategy of spreading the fight from its strongholds in the country’s southern and eastern regions.
Karzai’s comments contradict statements from coalition commanders that a boost in foreign forces in Afghanistan to more than 140,000 has stopped the momentum of recent Taliban advances. They come amid a surge in fighting that has so far left 62 coalition troops dead this month, including 42 Americans.
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