Police Attempt to Quell Anti-Islam Video Protests in Indonesia and Afghanistan
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The fury over a film that attacks the Prophet Mohammed spilled into more of the Muslim world today, even as the Middle East calmed.
In several countries, including Afghanistan, police used force to defend U.S. diplomatic and military sites.
For the first time, violent protests that erupted last week spread to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, hundreds of people threw rocks and firebombs and battled with police in their fury over an anti-Islamic film made in the U.S.
MAN (through translator): There is no other way. Those who insult the Prophet Muhammad, whoever he is, must die.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Meanwhile, in Southwest Asia, hundreds of Pakistanis chanted “Down with America” and tried to scale barriers outside the U.S. consulate in Lahore. Police fought back with riot batons.
MAN (through translator): The police are carrying out atrocities against us. The world is watching.
We are condemning this anti-Muslim film through this protest and saying to the government that all the consulate and embassy diplomats should be sent back to the U.S.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And there were similar scenes in neighboring Afghanistan, where crowds set fires and lobbed rocks at a U.S. military base in Kabul.
MAN (through translator): The infidels should correct themselves. Otherwise, we will continue to protest.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The new unrest in Afghanistan came as American and NATO forces face deadly new attacks.
The first came Friday when Taliban fighters disguised in U.S. Army uniforms struck a major base, Camp Bastion, near the capital of Helmand Province. The attackers killed two U.S. Marines and destroyed six fighter jets, plus refueling stations and aircraft hangars.
The total dollar damage is estimated at $200 million. That was followed by a new series of attacks by men wearing Afghan police or army uniforms, firing on coalition troops.
On Saturday, a gunman in an Afghan militia unit killed two British troops in Helmand Province. On Sunday, in Zabul Province, an Afghan police officer killed four American service members.
And last night, an Afghan soldier shot at a vehicle at Camp Garmsir, also in Helmand, wounding a foreign civilian worker.
There had already been a dozen such attacks by Afghan forces on foreign troops in August alone, killing 15. And that was before the explosion of outrage over the anti-Islamic film.
On Sunday, the top-ranking U.S. military officer, Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey, called the insider attacks a very serious threat, and he strongly suggested Afghan authorities must do more.
He said — quote — “You can’t whitewash it. We can’t convince ourselves that we just have to work harder to get through it. Something has to change.”
Today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta weighed in while traveling in Japan.
LEON PANETTA, U.S. Defense Secretary: There are serious risks that confront those who fight the war. And we will do all we can to minimize those risks.
But we will not lose sight of the fundamental mission here, which is to continue to proceed to assure a peaceful transition.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The strains in the U.S.-Afghan relationship were further aggravated by civilian deaths in a NATO airstrike. Afghan officials said the victims were eight women and children who had gone out to gather firewood.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the deaths. The coalition said the strike also killed as many as 45 insurgents, but it issued an apology for the civilians killed.