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September 18, 2012

Anti-Islam Film Protests Continue in Asia

by VOA News

Protests against an anti-Islam film spread to Thailand, northwestern Pakistan and Indian-controlled Kashmir Tuesday, while an insurgent group in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for a suicide attack it says was in response to the video.

​​The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok closed at midday, ahead of the planned protest, but said it was not aware of any specific threat to Americans in Thailand.

In Peshawar, Pakistan, protesters threw stones and chanted anti-American slogans as police lobbed tear gas to try to push them back from the U.S. consulate.

The protests in Srinagar, the main city in Kashmir, also turned violent as stone-throwing demonstrators clashed with police.

Meanwhile, al-Qaida's North Africa branch issued a statement calling for more attacks against U.S. diplomats in retaliation for the low-budget film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad.

The group specifically threatened attacks in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania.

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Demonstrations and violence have hit around 20 countries since last week, when the American ambassador in Libya and three of his staff were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Also Tuesday, officials in Bangladesh said the country blocked access to YouTube in order to prevent people from seeing the video.
 
Pakistan ordered its own block Monday after Google, which owns the video sharing website, refuse to remove the clip.

Google has barred access to the video, itself, in Libya, Egypt, Indonesia and India.  

On Monday, the leader of the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah called for sustained protests in a rare public appearance before thousands of supporters at a rally in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah accused U.S. spy agencies of being behind events that have unleashed a wave of anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world.

Washington has sent ships, extra troops and special forces to protect U.S. interests and citizens in the Middle East, while a number of its embassies have evacuated staff and are on high alert for trouble.

The man allegedly behind the private film, The Innocence of Muslims, was questioned Saturday by U.S. authorities in California.


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