26 October 2009

Anti-U.S. protests keep Kabul ex-pats alert

KABUL, Afghanistan—By mid-morning today international personnel had received text messages from the university’s security service charting the threat posed by anti-U.S. protesters in the second day of demonstrations in the nation’s capital triggered by rumors that American troops had desecrated the Qur’an, Islam’s most holy book.

The Afghan National Police fired automatic weapons into the air and used water cannons today to disperse the stone-throwing demonstrators, many of whom were Kabul University students, The AP reports. Several police were allegedly injured. Yesterday the protesters marched to the parliament, which is located close to university, and fired warning shots. The demonstrators on Sunday burned an effigy of Pres. Barack Obama, chanted “Death to America,” and carried signs proclaiming “No to democracy, we want Islam,” according to published reports.

The university instituted a lockdown—no travel allowed to or from the campus—for about half of Sunday, but none today. A lockdown of at least three days is expected Nov. 6-8 as precautionary response to the second-round, presidential run-off election between Hamid Karzai, the incumbent, and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday, Nov. 7.