JAKARTA, Indonesia – Police fired warning shots and tear gas Tuesday outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta during a clash with hundreds of stick-wielding Islamic activists protesting the U.S.-led attacks in Afghanistan.
A water cannon pushed the crowd back and some officers beat protesters with sticks, witnesses said. Two policemen, a news photographer and several demonstrators were injured.
It was the latest in a series of anti-U.S. demonstrations held in the world's most populous Muslim nation since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The trouble started minutes after the crowd of more than 500 held midday prayers in the street in front of the diplomatic mission.
Fighting erupted when a group tried to pull down razor wire barricades. Some also threw bamboo sticks at riot police.
Several U.S. Marines in combat gear stood guard inside the embassy's perimeter fence but took no action.
After the melee, hundreds of protesters marched across the city's main square to the palace of President Megawati Sukarnoputri and were dispersed peacefully by police.
"America and Britain are the enemies of civilization," read a banner carried by the demonstrators, who had earlier rallied outside the United Nations building in Jakarta.
About 90 percent of Indonesia's 210 million people are Muslims. Some support Afghanistan's rigorously Islamic Taliban militia as well as Usama bin Laden.
Megawati's government has officially backed Washington's anti-terrorism campaign. However, in a sign that its resolve could be buckling under pressure from angry Muslim groups, it has also called on the United States to show restraint.
Anti-U.S. protests also were held elsewhere in Indonesia on Tuesday.
In the city of Makassar on Sulawesi Island, demonstrators burned a U.S. flag and vandalized a McDonald's billboard. Later, they surrounded a McDonald's restaurant and pulled down a Japanese flag in front of that country's consulate, witnesses said.
The group of 100 people had earlier threatened to round up and expel U.S. citizens living in the city, 870 miles northeast of Jakarta.
In the Javanese city of Bandung, at least 2,000 people held a march, police said. American flags were burned in Medan, an industrial city on Sumatra Island, while scores protested outside the U.S. consulate in Surabaya.
The U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions have cautioned Westerners to stay off the streets for security reasons, and many embassies were closed Monday. The U.S. Embassy was among those still shut Tuesday.
The British Embassy, however, reopened.