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Quran burning protests rage on, injuring 7 more troops

The US ambassador to Afghanistan admits that 'tensions are running very high here' over the disposal of Qurans in a burn pit at a US military base.

By Heidi Vogt and Rahim FaiezAssociated Press / February 26, 2012

Qurans are seen on a shelf at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), Friday, in Sterling, Va. A Quran burning incident on a US military base in Afghanistan has caused tensions in the country.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Kabul, Afghanistan

Protesters angry over Quran burnings by American troops lobbed grenades at a US base in northern Afghanistan and clashed with police and troops in a day of violence that left seven international troops wounded and two Afghans dead.

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The top American diplomat in the country said the spike in tensions between the US and Afghanistan caused by the burnings, including the killing of two American military advisers Saturday at an Afghan ministry, would not diminish Washington's commitment to the region.

"Tensions are running very high here and I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with business," Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN's "State of the Union."

Sunday's violence was the latest in six days of riots across the country by Afghans furious at the way some Qurans at an American base outside of Kabul were disposed of in a burn pit. The incident has swiftly spiraled out of control leaving dozens of people dead, including four US troops killed by their Afghan counterparts.

Manhunt for killer of US advisers

Afghan authorities have launched a manhunt across the country for a driver they suspect in the killing of two US military advisers who were shot to death at an Afghan ministry a day earlier. International advisers working at Afghan ministries were recalled out of fears of another attack.

In Kunduz province, thousands of demonstrators started out protesting peacefully but then the group turned violent as they tried to enter the district's largest city, said Amanuddin Quriashi, district administrator. People in the crowd fired on police and threw grenades at a US base on the city outskirts, he said.

Seven NATO troops were wounded and one protester was killed when troops fired out from the US base, Quriashi said. Another demonstrator was killed by Afghan police, he added. Provincial police spokesman Sarwar Hussaini confirmed the casualties.

A NATO spokesman said that an explosion occurred outside the base, but that the grenades did not breach its defenses.

"Initial reports indicate that there were no ISAF service member fatalities," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Badura, referring to NATO's International Security Assistance Force. He declined to comment on whether there were any wounded.

More than 30 people have been killed in clashes since it emerged Tuesday that copies of the Muslim holy book and other religious materials had been thrown into a fire pit used to burn garbage at Bagram Air Field, a large US base north of Kabul.

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