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KABUL - At least seven Afghans were shot dead and dozens wounded on Wednesday in clashes between police and demonstrators protesting over the burning of the Quran at a US-run military base, officials said.
In the capital Kabul and in provinces to the east, north and south of the capital, furious Afghans took to the streets screaming "Death to America", throwing rocks and setting fire to shops and vehicles as gunshots rang out.
In the eastern city Jalalabad, students set fire to an effigy of US President Barack Obama, while the US embassy in Kabul declared it was on lockdown.
In Kabul, hundreds of people poured onto the Jalalabad road, throwing stones at US military base Camp Phoenix, where troops guarding the base fired into the air and black smoke from burning tires rose.
Afghanistan is a deeply religious country where slights against Islam have frequently provoked violent protests and Afghans were incensed that any Western troops could be so insensitive, 10 years after the 2001 US-led invasion.
The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, apologized and ordered an investigation into the incident, admitting that religious materials, including Qurans "were inadvertently taken to an incineration facility".