KABUL -- Suicide attackers stormed a police compound with AK-47s, grenades and an explosives-rigged ambulance in southern Afghanistan yesterday in an escalation of fighting that coincides with continued demonstrations over the burning of a Quran in Florida.
Six Afghan security troopers died in the attack in Kandahar province. Riots in the same province incited by the Quran burning killed 10 people on Saturday, part of a wave of protests that has forced international aid organizations and embassies to virtually lock down their facilities for more than a week. More protests are expected Friday.
Last month's book burning at the Gainesville, Fla., church led by the Rev. Terry Jones went almost unnoticed in the United States. But it further inflamed anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan, where many people were already fed up with the presence of foreign military forces and civilian casualties.
Outrage at the desecration also spurred a deadly assault on a UN headquarters in the northern province of Mazar-i-Sharif last week that killed seven staff workers.
Afghan police closely monitored protesters, who were peaceful in their behavior but strident in their rhetoric.
"America is a terrorist," read one banner. "No to American military bases in Afghanistan," read another.
Sabor Fakhri, one of the protest organizers, said he viewed the Quran burning as a personal affront to him and his family.
"This holy book belongs to all Muslim nations and when they burned the Quran they burned me and my people," he said.