A group of Afghans protested on Monday against what they called the desecration of the Koran by British forces, the district governor said, although he and a British spokesman denied any desecration took place.
Numerous people describing themselves as demonstrators and residents also telephoned a Reuters reporter in the southern city of Kandahar to say some 600 people took part in the protest in Girishk district of neighbouring Helmand province.
Abdul Manaf, Girishk's district governor, said 150 people had demonstrated in the town, but that there had been no desecration of the holy book and Taliban fighters had spread false rumours to provoke a protest.
One self-described protester who introduced himself as Ghulam Mohammad said British soldiers knocked copies of the Muslim holy book out of the hands of villagers.
"The villagers told them that there were no Taliban hiding in the villages and swore by copies of the Koran they had in their hands," he said by telephone. "The British soldiers threw away the Koran and began searching the houses."
Neues aus Talibanistan
Es reicht aus zu behaupten, der Koran sei "entweiht" worden, um die muslimischen Massen zu mobilisieren. So, wie Imam Abu Laban und Konsorten den Cartoon-Jihad entfachten, indem sie behaupteten, in Dänemark würde Mohammed als Schwein dargestellt werden, behaupten die Taliban nun, die Engländer hätten den Koran durch die Gegend geschmissen.