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Gunman Kills 2 US Troops in Afghanistan

US soldiers keep watch after an attack at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2, 2011
US soldiers keep watch after an attack at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 2, 2011

Afghan military officials say a man wearing an Afghan border police uniform has killed two American soldiers in northern Afghanistan, as protests erupted across the country for a fourth day against the burning of a Quran in the United States.

NATO says the suspect fled the scene after firing on NATO soldiers Monday inside a border patrol compound in Faryab province. The coalition says it is investigating the incident, which took place while American forces were holding talks with a local commander.

It is unclear if the shooter was a member of the Afghan security forces who turned on his Western counterparts or an infiltrator. There have been cases of both in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets in Mehterlam, the provincial capital of eastern Laghman province Monday to rally against the March 20 burning of a Quran by the head of a small fundamentalist church in the southern U.S. state of Florida.

Hundreds of stone-throwing demonstrators scuffled with police. No casualties were reported.

Officials say at least 19 people have died and 100 people have been wounded in Afghanistan since Friday when demonstrations against the Quran burning began. In the deadliest incident, seven foreign United Nations staff members were killed in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, when a U.N. compound was attacked by protesters.

The Quran burning initially received little press coverage in Afghanistan. But after Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the act, religious leaders called for justice and thousands took to the streets across Afghanistan in protest.

President Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, said Monday the Afghan leader has appointed two commissions to investigate the deadly protests in Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar.

On Sunday, General David Petraeus, the commander of the U.S.-led international forces denounced the burning and offered condolences to the families of those killed and wounded. U.S. President Barack Obama had earlier condemned the burning of the Muslim holy book.

In other developments, Afghan police thwarted an attack by two suicide bombers in southern Helmand province. One bomber blew himself up and the other was injured. One police officer and two civilians were also hurt.

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