Afghans demand withdrawal of Danish, Dutch troops

Other News Materials 9 March 2008 02:15 (UTC +04:00)

Thousands of Afghans burned Dutch and Danish flags on Saturday and demanded that their troops be sent home over cartoons and a film seen as an insult to Islam, police and witnesses said.

The protests were the latest in a series across the country to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and a Dutch film that its far-right maker says will depict the Koran as a "fascist book."

The largest demonstration on Saturday took place in the western city of Herat near the border with Iran, where about 5,000 marched through town, chanting "Death to Holland, death to Denmark," an AFP reporter witnessed.

One of the protesters tossed a hand grenade into the governor's compound but it caused little damage, provincial police chief Juma Khan Adeel said. Some also attacked a police vehicle with sticks, breaking its windows, he added.

Protesters torched the flags of each nation and said Kabul must sever ties with the governments of Denmark and The Netherlands and expel their troops serving in a NATO-led force helping to tackle an extremist insurgency here.

"We want the government of Denmark and Holland to arrest and bring to justice all those who are insulting Islam," one of the organisers said.

In the eastern province of Kunar, about 1,000 men also chanted slogans against the two countries and set alight flags, Khas Kunar district chief Sayed Mahboob said.

The demonstrators said the people behind the film and cartoon must be tried, he said.

The first printing of the Danish cartoons caused days of protests worldwide in early 2006, including in Afghanistan, where 11 people were killed.

The Dutch film is due to be released this month.