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Afghan protesters burn Obama effigy

Afghan university students shout anti-U.S. slogans as they burn an effigy of President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kabul, Oct. 25, 2009. Afghans protested over allegations that Western troops fighting the Taliban had set fire to a copy of the Koran. (UPI Photo/Hossein Fatemi)
Afghan university students shout anti-U.S. slogans as they burn an effigy of President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kabul, Oct. 25, 2009. Afghans protested over allegations that Western troops fighting the Taliban had set fire to a copy of the Koran. (UPI Photo/Hossein Fatemi) | License Photo

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Afghan protesters burned an effigy of President Barack Obama Sunday in reaction to rumors, denied by U.S. officials, that U.S. troops desecrated the Koran.

An estimated 1,000 demonstrators, mostly university students, gathered in Kabul, the Afghan capital, the Los Angeles Times reported. Police fired warning shots as the crowd moved from Kabul University to the parliament building but no injuries were reported, newspaper said.

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"Muslims were disrespected!" Zabiullah Khalil, an engineering student, said. "The foreigners shot the Koran, and then they burned it. They should be tried for this."

U.S. military officials denied any copies of Islam's holy book were desecrated and accused members of the Taliban of spreading the story to provoke animosity against the West. The rumor apparently originated last week in Wardak and was determined to be groundless following an investigation by Afghan and Western officials, the Times reported.

Demonstrators also protested Afghanistan's political situation, with some blaming the United States for fraud in the August presidential election and the contentious debate over whether and how to conduct a runoff between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah.

"We don't want a slave government," Khalil said. "We want a real Islamic country."

There has been a wave of similar, but smaller, demonstrations against the alleged incident before Sunday's protest in Kabul, officials said.

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