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Protests over Quran burning spread to Afghanistan's turbulent east

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — Demonstrators battled police in southern Afghanistan's main city on Sunday and took to the streets in the turbulent east for the first time as Western pleas failed to halt a third day of rage over a Florida pastor's burning of the Quran.

Rahmat Gul / AP

A protestor beats a burning effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama during a rally in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Sunday, April 3. Afghan protests against the burning of a Quran in Florida entered a third day with a demonstration in the major eastern city Sunday, while the Taliban called on people to rise up, blaming government forces for any violence.

An officer was shot dead in a second day of clashes in the city of Kandahar, said provincial health director Qayum Pokhla. Two officers and 18 civilians were wounded, he said.

In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block another highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani.

Rahmat Gul / AP

Protestors shout anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Sunday, April 3.

 The violence was set off by anger over the March 20 burning of the Quran by a Florida church — the same church whose pastor had threatened to do so last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, triggering worldwide outrage. Continue reading.