Indonesian protesters, police clash outside US Embassy

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JAKARTA, Indonesia: Protesters hurled petrol bombs and clashed with Indonesian police outside the US Embassy in Jakarta on Monday, as demonstrations in the world’s most populous Muslim nation turned violent.

 

Hundreds of people in Indonesia protested on Friday and Saturday against a  low-budget film insulting to Muslims, but they had been largely peaceful.
 
That changed as demonstrators lobbed petrol bombs and shouted anti-American  slogans. Police responded with bursts of water cannon and fired warning shots  into the air to disperse about 700 protesters.
 
Many of them were supporters of hardline Islamic groups and were dressed in  identical white Muslim garb, an AFP reporter saw.
 
Several hundred police in riot gear and at least two armoured vehicles  guarded the embassy, together with a pair of water cannon and a fire engine.
 
Police were seen kicking or dragging away some of the protesters, as thick  black smoke from petrol bombs rose into the air. One policeman, bleeding in the  face, was taken away in an ambulance.
 
Jakarta police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name, said: “One member  of the police force was injured by stone-throwing. We cannot say for the time  being how many protesters have been arrested.
 
“We used tear gas, water cannon and warning shots, which are in accordance  with standard procedures for violent protests of this kind.”    He did not say if police were firing live ammunition or blanks.
 
Earlier Monday, about 50 students trampled on the American flag and threw  eggs at a US diplomatic mission in the city of Medan, capital of North Sumatra  province, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
 
The “Innocence of Muslims” film, thought to have been produced by a small  group of Christian extremists in the United States, has sparked violent  anti-American protests across the Islamic world.
 
The movie mocks the Prophet Mohammed and portrays Muslims as immoral and  gratuitously violent.
 
Indonesia’s Communications and Information Ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa  Broto told AFP on Sunday that YouTube’s parent company Google had begun  restricting access to videos of the film.
 
But the videos could still be viewed on Monday.
 
“We understand that it takes time for Google to block everything as people  continue to upload those sensitive videos. We appreciate Google’s cooperation,”  Broto said. -- AFP

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