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Protests Against Quran Burning Threats Sweep Afghanistan


Thousands of people across Afghanistan took to the streets Friday to protest a U.S. pastor's threats to burn copies of the Quran.

Police say violence broke out during protests in northeastern Badakhshan province and western Farah province, wounding at least eight people. Authorities say initial reports that a man was killed in Badakhshan province were incorrect.

The biggest demonstration took place in the city of Fayzabad, in Badakhshan province. Security officials say clashes broke out after protesters poured into the streets after traditional prayers marking the start of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr. Authorities say some of the protesters broke off to hurl rocks at the NATO base stationed there, prompting clashes with security forces who rushed in to quell the violence.

During a message to mark the start of Eid al-Fitr, President Hamid Karzai criticized the U.S. pastor's threats to burn the Quran, saying the Quran cannot be harmed because it is in the hearts and minds of all Muslims.

In neighboring Pakistan, hundreds of people in the central city of Multan demonstrated against threats to burn the Quran. Some burned American flags.

The pastor of the small Florida church at the center of the controversy, Reverend Terry Jones, had originally planned to burn hundreds of copies of the Quran on Saturday to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. He announced Thursday he was suspending the protest.

The pastor's plans have created an international firestorm and prompted leading political and religious figures to issue statements condemning the plans.

Top U.S. officials had warned the pastor that the Quran burning could provoke Islamist violence and put U.S. soldiers' lives in danger.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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