Seven killed as anti-Islam film protests rage in Tunisia, Sudan and Lebanon
Protests against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States have intensified in Tunisia and Sudan and spread in Lebanon, with three Tunisians, three Sudanese and one Lebanese killed as clashes between demonstrators and police ensued on Friday.
Three people were killed on Friday and another 28 wounded in clashes at the U.S. embassy in Tunis, which was stormed by an angry mob protesting over
“Innocence of Muslims,” a film mocking Islam, an official media said, citing the health ministry.
Two of the injured were in a critical condition, the same source said, without giving any details about the victims.
Police fired tear gas and warning shots as more than 1,000 stone-throwing protesters gathered on Friday outside the U.S. embassy in a Tunis suburb to denounce the film, an AFP journalist reported.
A thick black plume of smoke was seen rising from the car park of the embassy, with a policeman telling AFP that some demonstrators had thrown petrol bombs.
The security forces intervened when hardline Salafis among the demonstrators outside the U.S. mission started hurling rocks, the journalist said.
The police responded with a sustained volley of tear gas, before loud bursts of gunfire rang out in the streets around the embassy, as the protesters tried to regroup.
The exact nature of the weapons being fired was not immediately clear, but police often use rubber bullets at demonstrations that turn violent.
“They are firing to prevent other groups from coming,” one protester told AFP.
Just minutes before the clashes broke out, the protesters had been shouting anti-U.S. slogans including: “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” in reference to Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces last year.
They also hurled insults at the police, accusing them of "protecting" those who denigrate Islam.
The majority of the protesters appeared to be hardline Salafis, waving the black Islamist flag.
Protesters also set fire to the American School in Tunis, a Reuters reporter said.The school was closed on Friday.
Earlier, security was boosted around the embassy 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the city center, with a heavy deployment of riot police and soldiers and extra barbed wire and checkpoints on nearby roads.
Tunisian imams, at mosques in the capital, had earlier called for protests outside the embassy to denounce a film mocking Islam posted on the Internet that has sparked anger across the Islamic world.
Four killed in Sudan, Lebanon
Three Sudanese protesters were killed near U.S. embassy in Khartoum, and another in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
Sudanese protesters who clambered over the wall of the U.S. embassy in Khartoum were ejected before they got far into the compound, a U.S. embassy spokesman said.
“They were all expelled. They didn’t get far,” the spokesman said when asked about the protesters and how far into the grounds they had reached. He said no embassy staff were injured in the incident.
Guards on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Sudan’s capital fired warning shots Friday as a security perimeter was breached and dozens of Islamic flag-waving protesters scaled an outer wall, an AFP reporter said.
A police vehicle near the embassy was also torched as hundreds of demonstrators broke through an outer security cordon after one protester was hit by a police vehicle and killed, a medic and the AFP reporter said.
Clashes erupted after a large number of security forces blocked off roads leading to the embassy as stone-throwing demonstrators protesting over a film deemed offensive to Islam tried to approach.
Before the U.S embassy attack, demonstrators on Friday stormed the German embassy in Khartoum and raised an Islamic flag above the mission during a protest against the film, a Reuters witness said.
A Reuters reporter saw protesters enter the embassy building in central Khartoum, smash windows and start a fire in front of the main gate.
Police had earlier tried to disperse some 5,000 protesters who had surrounded the German and nearby British embassy by firing volleys of teargas but no officers could be seen at the front gate after the storming.
The U.S. missions in all of Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia were targeted as the movie was produced in the United States by an Israeli-American and it was not immediately clear why European missions were being attacked in Sudan.
The Germany foreign minister meanwhile said that Sudan embassy staff were safe.
Meanwhile, in Tripoli, one person was killed and 25 others were wounded after clashes between police and angry protesters against the film.
A crowd of 300 Islamists attacked and set fire to a KFC restaurant in Tripoli on Friday, an AFP correspondent said.
The attack on the U.S. fast-food chain’s outlet came as Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit, calling for Christian-Muslim coexistence and attacking religious extremism.
In Egypt, clashes between protesters and Egyptian Central Security Forces continued near the U.S. embassy in central Cairo on Friday as demonstrators insisted on voicing their rage over the film.
Meanwhile, a group of Bedouin broke through the fence of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) compound in the Sinai and set fire to an observation tower, a security official said.
In the ensuing clashes two Colombians and an Egyptian were injured, he said, adding that the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.
The protesters also set fire to a car inside the compound which lies in the town of Al-Goura, 10 kilometers (around six miles) from the Gaza Strip.
And in Iraq, protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags as thousands of people demonstrated for a second day Friday in cities and towns across Iraq the film.
In the biggest protest, thousands of people turned out in the southern port city of Basra, carrying Iraqi flags and shouting slogans including: “There is no freedom by abuses to the feelings of two billion Muslims.”
The protesters burned American and Israeli flags, an AFP correspondent said.
Hundreds of people also protested in the Sunni-majority Adhamiyah area of north Baghdad after Friday prayers, while dozens of people, mainly from various Shiite parties, also demonstrated in the capital’s Tahrir Square.
U.S. to send Marines in Yemen
In Yemen, a platoon of Marines from with the fleet anti-terrorism security team have been sent to Yemen to bolster security at the embassy and are now on the ground in Sanaa, the Pentagon said on Friday.
“This is partly a response to events over the past two days at our embassy in Yemen but it’s also in part a precautionary measure,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
Dozens arrested in India
Eighty-six people were arrested on Friday after a group of several hundred Muslim protesters threw stones and smashed windows at the U.S. consulate in the Indian city of Chennai, police said.
“They smashed the window panes, surveillance camera and tried to scale over the compound wall, but we dispersed them while exercising restraint,” a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity. “We made 86 arrests.”
The Pentagon, meanwhile, said protests in Afghanistan so far are peaceful, as religious leaders have appealed against violence in response to film.