US on alert as protests over anti-Islam video spread (Lead)

September 14th, 2012 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 14 (IANS) As protestors took to the streets in at least 12 nations over an anti-Islam video, US missions across the Middle East kept security forces at the ready Friday, the traditional Muslim day of prayers.

“We are in a full-court press at every single one of the posts in the Middle East and anywhere else there is any chance of demonstrations,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying by CNN.

Egyptian riot police Friday tried to disperse a huge crowd of protestors outside the US Embassy in Cairo, where demonstrations over the US made film, “Innocence of Muslims”, ridiculing Prophet Mohammad, have been going on for four days, the news channel said.

In Yemen, security forces opened fire on protestors near the US Embassy, it said citing witnesses.

Afghanistan saw its first anti-American protest over the film Friday, as hundreds of protestors burned a US flag and chanted “Death to America” and “We condemn the film” at an hour-long demonstration in Nangarhar province.

Reports of various protests also came in from Tunisia, Morocco, Gaza City, Israel, Iran and Iraq.

Posted in July on YouTube, the film got more notice recently after Egyptian television aired segments and anti-Islam activists promoted it online.

The film distribution permit for “Innocence of Muslims” has been withdrawn at the request of US authorities, who cited public safety concerns, CNN said citing Film LA, Inc., the non-profit agency that oversees production in the Los Angeles area.

Meanwhile, four people have been reported arrested in connection with the attack on the US consulate in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi that left US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Those arrested were not directly tied to the attacks that resulted in the deaths, Monem Elyasser, the chief aide to Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur, told CNN by telephone.

Elyasser did not release the identities of the four suspects in custody, nor did he detail the allegations against them.

Given what they know about Al Qaeda in Libya, intelligence officials believe it is very unlikely that core Al Qaeda was behind the attack, CNN cited an unnamed intelligence official as saying.

The US is deploying warships and surveillance drones in its hunt for the killers of the diplomatic staffers, and a contingent of 50 Marines has arrived to boost the security of Americans in the country.

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