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September 14, 2012

Embassies targeted as anti-film protests spread

CAIRO (AP) — Angry protests over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world Friday, with demonstrators scaling the walls of U.S. embassies in Tunisia and Sudan and torching part of a German embassy. Amid the turmoil, Islamic militants waving black banners and shouting "God is great" stormed an international peacekeepers base in Egypt's Sinai and battled troops, wounding four Colombians.

Egypt's new Islamist president went on national TV and appealed to Muslims to not attack embassies, denouncing the violence earlier this week in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. Mohammed Morsi's first public move to restrain protesters after days of near silence appeared aimed at repairing strains with the United States over this week's violence.

Throughout the region, security forces struggled to rein in protesters. Police in Cairo prevented stone-throwing demonstrators from nearing the U.S. Embassy, firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles in a fourth day of clashes in the Egyptian capital. At least three protesters were killed around the region.

The day of protests, which spread to around 20 countries, started small and mostly peacefully in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most violent demonstrations took place in the Middle East. In many places, only a few hundred took to the streets, mostly ultraconservative Islamists — but the mood was often furious.

The demonstrators came out after weekly Friday Muslim prayers, where many clerics in their mosque sermons urged congregations to defend their faith, denouncing the obscure movie produced in the United States that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad. It was a dramatic expansion of protests that began earlier this week and saw assaults on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Yemen and the storming of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

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