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Police fired Friday on 2,000 Moslems rioting in Bombay,...

By LEE STOKES, United Press International

Police fired Friday on 2,000 Moslems rioting in Bombay, India, over the book 'The Satanic Verses,' killing 10 protesters and wounding 50, and a key Iranian moderate for the first time backed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death order against British author Salman Rushdie.

The clash in Bombay, Rushdie's birthplace, was the bloodiest outbreak of violence yet over the book Moslems find blasphemous and which is banned in India and other Moslem nations.

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The violence began when 400 people marching through Moslem-dominated areas were confronted by riot police, who ordered them to disperse. The marchers refused and began throwing rocks and bottles.

The rioting spread throughout the city involving some 2,000 people, as residents backing the marchers lobbed acid bombs and debris from roofs and balconies. Police said they staged several baton charges to disperse crowds and finally started shooting.

Police said 10 protesters were killed and 50 other people, including police, were wounded in Bombay. Rushdie is a naturalized British citizen who has been in hiding with police protection since Iran offered nearly $6 million to anyone who killed him.

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It was the most violent incident since Feb. 6 when five people were shot dead by police during a protest over the book at the U.S. Information Center in Islamabad, Pakistan. The next day at least two others were killed and dozens injured in clashes in the Indian city of Srinagar.

The bloodshed came as Japan finally sided with the West against Iran's death threat against Rushdie, but did not say it would follow the 12-nation European Community in withdrawing its diplomats from Tehran.

Japanese Foreign Minister Sousuke Uno said, 'Such suggestions of murder cannot be accepted among modern society.' Japan, dependent on oil imports from the Persian Gulf, had maintained silence apparently to avoid offending trading partner Iran.

British Foreign Minister Geoffrey Howe, in Tokyo for Emperor Hirohito's funeral, received a death threat Friday from a self-described 'friend of Iran' who telephoned a warning Howe 'would not leave Japan alive.'

Howe has asked Moscow to intervene in the Rushdie affair when Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze visits Tehran on Saturday, according to a British Broadcasting Corp. report monitored in Manama, Bahrain.

But Gennady Gerasimov, chief spokesman for the Soviet Foreign Ministry, said the issue of Rushdie's book would 'not be raised by our side' during the Shevardnadze-Khomeini meeting.

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'I don't know if it will be raised by the other side,' he said during an official visit to Nicosia, Cyprus. 'I myself have not read the book but I believe one must respect both the religious feelings of other people and also international law.'

One Persian Gulf-based diplomat predicted Iran would ask the Soviets not to intervene if there is a military confrontation between Iran and the West over the Rushdie affair.

In Beirut, Lebanon, meanwhile, the pro-Syrian weekly magazine As Shiraa said, 'The issue of foreign hostages held in Lebanon was further complicated after Salman Rushdie's book caused tension.' There are 15 foreign hostages held in Lebanon, including Americans.

In Tehran, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for the first time justified Khomeini's death call against Rushdie as being rooted in the foundations of Islam. His stand, reported by Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, came after the ayatollah this week warned Iran's clergy to rally behind him or face the consequences.

Rafsanjani, also acting military commander, is seen as Iran's most powerful moderate. He and Iranian President Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati had refrained from publicly supporting the death call, apparently fearing it would damage Tehran's delicate relations with the West.

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Rafsanjani, according to the IRNA report monitored in Manama, also indicated Iran would not be responsible if someone complied with the death order or protested violently, saying if 'any Moslem carried out his duty this cannot have any link with the Islamic Republic of Iran.'

'The West may also instigate its own agents to carry out unprincipled and devilish acts so (it could then) blame Iran,' he said.

President Bush this week warned he would hold Iran responsible for attacks on U.S. interests stemming from the Iranian 'fatwa,' or death decree, against Rushdie.

Jordan's King Hussein, meanwhile, said on the CBS News show 'This Morning' that while parts of the book are 'an affront to Muslims,' if the issue had benn 'handled in a different way ... maybe it would have been wiser.'

In New York, Waldenbooks bought a full-page ad in Friday's New York Times apparently to counter reports it had stopped selling Rushdie's novel.

'We have never taken the book off sale and have completely sold all copies,' the boldly lettered advertisement read. 'We will continue to sell the book when it comes back in stock at the publisher.

'We will continue to use discretion in displaying the book,' the ad said.

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