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Karzai Calls For Calm Amid Ongoing Unrest

The situation has been tense in Afghanistan amid widespread protests in response to the burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base.
Reports from northern Afghanistan say at least one protester was killed and seven U.S. soldiers were wounded in a sixth day of anti-American protests.

Local officials said the protester died on February 26 in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz Province as some 2,000 demonstrators tried to march on the provincial capital but were stopped by police.

Police said seven soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack at their base located in Imam Sahib.

NATO said there was an explosion outside one of its bases, without elaborating.

In the neighboring province of Samangan, two protesters were reported wounded during a similar demonstration.

About 30 people have been killed in protests triggered by the burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base ever since the incident came to light on February 21.

President Hamid Karzai renewed his calls for calm at a press conference on February 26.

Staff Withdrawn

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said on February 26 that deadly protests in Afghanistan over the burning of Korans "must stop, "and added that the U.S. “deeply regrets the incident.”

On the same day, Germany said it had withdrawn its national and international staff from Afghan ministries. Cooperation Minister Dirk Niebel said the decision was a "reasonable precautionary measure."

The French foreign ministry said earlier on February 26 that its embassy in Kabul was temporarily withdrawing all French civilian mentors and advisors from Afghan government institutions.

NATO and Britain also announced on February 25 that they were pulling staff out of Afghan government institutions.

Police Officer Sought Over Kabul Killings

Meanwhile, reports from Afghanistan say police are hunting for an Afghan intelligence officer suspected of killing two U.S. officers.

The two Americans, who were working as officers in the NATO coalition, were killed on February 25 at the Interior Ministry in Kabul.

Unidentified Afghan officials said February 26 that the main suspect, a police officer who worked for the ministry’s intelligence department, has disappeared following the attack.

The BBC quoted counter-terrorism officials as identifying the suspect as 25-year-old Abdul Saboor.

NATO has said it would withdraw all its personnel from Afghan ministries after the shooting.

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, saying they were in retaliation for the burning of copies of the Koran at the Bagram base.

With reporting from AFP, AP, and Reuters

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