(Associated Press) - JALALABAD, Afghanistan Demonstrators battled police in southern Afghanistan's main city on Sunday and took to the streets in the turbulent east for the first time as Western pleas failed to halt the third day of rage over a Florida pastor's burning of the Koran.
Officers and protesters skirmished for the second straight day in the city of Kandahar, leaving two officers and 18 civilians hurt, provincial health director Qayum Pokhla told The Associated Press.
In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block the highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani said.
Resentment has been building for years here over the operations of Western military forces, blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.
Coverage of the ongoing trial of a group of U.S. soldiers' charged with killings of Afghan civilians and the publication of photos of some posing with dead bodies fueled that anger, which violently erupted Friday in a protest over the little-publicized destruction of the Koran last month.
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