Afghan protest
Rahmat Nikzad  /  AP Photo
Afghan men shout anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration against coalition forces in Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, on Friday.
updated 2/27/2009 6:17:54 PM ET 2009-02-27T23:17:54

Hundreds of people blocked roads and fought with police in southern Afghanistan on Friday over unconfirmed reports that Polish troops fired guns in a village mosque, in a protest underscoring Afghans' growing mistrust of international forces.

Both NATO forces and Polish officials said they had no reports of any such incident. Polish troops are deployed in the province, but there were no records of international troops in the immediate area, NATO added.

It is often difficult in Afghanistan's turbulent south to separate actual incidents from Taliban propaganda, but a government delegation said the mosque door was damaged by bullets and some protesters said they had witnessed the mosque raid on Thursday.

A protester reached by phone said he saw Polish forces fire their guns in the mosque in the village of Dhi Khodaidad, just south of the capital of Ghazni province.

Abdulrahman, who only gave one name, said he was in the mosque when the troops raided. He said the bullets hit a wall but did not injure anyone.

Robert Rochowicz, spokesman for Poland's Defense Ministry, said he had "no information at all about any kind of incident concerning Polish troops in Afghanistan." He said he would have been informed if anything had happened.

A number of incidents in recent months in which NATO or U.S. strikes killed civilians have fueled anger against international troops in Afghanistan, threatening the effort to drive back the Taliban. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly called on international forces to do more to respect the local population and prevent civilian deaths.

Protesters, police clash
The Ghazni protest turned violent as the crowd of about 500 people threw rocks at police and at least three demonstrators were wounded by gunfire before the melee calmed down, Ghazni police Chief Mohammad Zaman said.

"We don't know if the Polish forces entered a mosque or not, but the protesters are claiming that," Zaman said.

Slideshow: On the front lines At least two bullets hit the door of the mosque, said Deputy Gov. Kazim Allayar, who led a delegation that visited the building Friday. He said he did not have further information but that government officials would meet with Polish forces Saturday to find out if they were involved.

NATO forces said an initial query turned up no reports of troops in Dhi Khodaidad, but they were continuing to investigate.

"We don't believe there were any forces in the area yesterday," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Hall, a NATO spokesman in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's southern provinces continue to be Taliban strongholds wracked by violence, years after a U.S.-led invasion ousted the hard-line Islamists from the central government in 2001.

Separately Friday, NATO forces said one of their troops was killed in a bomb attack in neighboring Zabul province.

The service member died in an explosion Thursday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said. A spokesman declined to provide further details.

NATO forces typically do not release the nationalities of killed or wounded troops. A number of countries have troops in Zabul, including Romania, Canada and Britain.

President Barack Obama has ordered another 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to try to fight back the strengthening insurgency. They will augment 38,000 American troops already in the country.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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