KABUL, Afghanistan -- Rioters infuriated by an anti-Islam video clashed with police in the Afghan capital on Monday, setting cars and tires ablaze and chanting anti-American slogans.
Police blocked off the traffic circle closest to the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions, and most Westerners working in Kabul were ordered by their organizations to try to stay out of public view.
Monday's unrest broke out when about 1,000 people gathered near an American base on the capital's eastern edge began marching toward the city. Police fired shots into the air to try to disperse the crowd, but the protesters continued to surge forward.
Foreign installations had been braced for trouble on Friday, the main Muslim prayer day, but there were only scattered and mainly peaceful protests. President Obama telephoned Afghan President Hamid Karzai beforehand, urging him to do what he could to stave off violence. Karzai did not personally issue a public call for calm, but aides said he warned local officials and religious leaders against inciting riots.
Frictions have been rising between Washington and the Karzai administration in recent days. The Afghan president had a tense meeting Sunday with the U.S. special envoy to the region, Marc Grossman, and afterward issued a sharply worded statement saying that the American failure to hand over some suspected insurgents when a military prison at Bagram air base reverted to Afghan control violated a strategic pact between the two countries.
Karzai also said he was "deeply saddened" by an errant U.S. airstrike on Sunday that killed eight Afghan village women in the eastern province of Laghman. The NATO force has expressed regret and is investigating the incident.
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Photo: Afghan Police stand by burning tires during a protest in Kabul. Ahmad Jamshid / Associated Press