by Abdul Haleem, Yangtze Yan
KABUL, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The alleged desecration of Muslim Holy book Quran by the U.S. military in Bagram airbase, 50 km north of Afghan capital Kabul, triggered protesting demonstrations in several Afghan cities from Tuesday to Wednesday and have claimed several lives.
Seven people have been killed in clashes with the police on Wednesday when thousands of Afghans came to streets to register their indignation over the Quran burning by the U.S. military for a second day in the conflict-ridden country.
On Wednesday, angry protesters and demonstrators were seen setting tires on fire and shouting slogans against the United States in Kabul and Jalalabad, the eastern Nangarhar provincial capital.
People in northern Parwan and southern Kandahar, according to reports, have also staged demonstrations and condemned the alleged desecration of Quran.
An official with the Interior Ministry confirmed to Xinhua that seven people have been killed and 30 others sustained injuries.
Meantime, Ghulam Sakhi Kargar Norughli, the spokesman of the Public Health Ministry when approached by Xinhua confirmed that 11 people who had been injured during demonstrations in Kabul had been taken to hospitals.
To heal the feeling of Afghans, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Dr. Ashton B. Carter called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Wednesday to discuss a number of issues of bilateral importance, said a statement released by the Presidential Palace.
"The U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary expressed his regrets over the incident and apologized on behalf of Secretary Leon Panetta to President Karzai and the people of Afghanistan," the statement said.
At the meeting held in the Presidential Palace, top NATO commander General John Allen, who was accompanying the deputy Secretary, briefed the president on the incident in which copies of the Holy Quran were burnt at Bagram military base, once again expressing his sincere apologies, the statement further said.
Afghan Wolesi Jirga or the lower house of the parliament, religious scholars and political parties have also denounced the burning of Quran and demanded punishment for the trouble-makers.
Facing the fury of thousands, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said Wednesday its staff were in "lockdown" and all travel had been suspended.