Violent Protests Erupt in Afghanistan At least two people are killed in violent protests in several Afghan cities. The clashes were triggered by a Newsweek story citing allegations that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tried to intimidate prisoners by flushing a copy of the Quran down a toilet. Carlotta Gall of the New York Times discusses the unrest.
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Violent Protests Erupt in Afghanistan

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Violent Protests Erupt in Afghanistan

Violent Protests Erupt in Afghanistan

Violent Protests Erupt in Afghanistan

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At least two people are killed in violent protests in several Afghan cities. The clashes were triggered by a Newsweek story citing allegations that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tried to intimidate prisoners by flushing a copy of the Quran down a toilet. Carlotta Gall of the New York Times discusses the unrest.

In the eastern city of Jalalabad, angry protesters burned vehicles, May 11. Reuters hide caption

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Violent protests broke out in Afghanistan. The protests came in reaction to a Newsweek magazine story about prisoner abuse at the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Among other things, Newsweek says interrogators tried to intimidate prisoners by flushing a copy of the Koran down a toilet. On the phone to discuss the Afghan response to this is Carlotta Gall. She's The New York Times bureau chief in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Carlotta, what do you know about the protest, the response to that magazine story?

Ms. CARLOTTA GALL (The New York Times): The protest started yesterday, and it was peaceful, mainly, in Jalalabad--students protesting. But they burnt effigies of Bush and they chanted anti-American slogans, directly aimed at this story. Today, however, the protest and march was much more violent. We think hundreds, maybe thousands were in the street, and four people have been killed and over 60 injured now are in hospital. So part of it was the police trying to contain the crowds. A lot of the crowds burst into buildings and attacked the governor's office and the UN office and several other government buildings and aid workers' buildings. So it's been pretty serious today.

INSKEEP: This is not a country that is the most globally connected that you could think of. How did a story in this particular magazine get to the other side of the world and cause this much trouble?

Ms. GALL: Well, they actually are well enough connected. The Afghans all listen to the radio and they have their own language radio stations, which often translate and read articles about Afghanistan and things that connect them. So they all do know a lot about Guantanamo. You can imagine that there've been a lot of Afghans held there in Guantanamo, so there's a lot of interest and anger at the treatment that's been going on there. So this really is an explosive detail that came out, and people genuinely feel very angry about the desecration of a Koran. It's--really even ordinary people who don't demonstrate are appalled by this news.

INSKEEP: Carlotta Gall is a reporter for The New York Times in Afghanistan. Thanks very much.

Ms. GALL: Thank you.

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