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Indonesian protesters, police clash outside US Embassy
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