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India city tense after Quran burn

AMRITSAR, India — Police commandos were posted in a northern Indian city to prevent religious clashes Thursday after Hindu nationalists desecrated a mosque and burned copies of the Quran.

Members of the All India Hindu Protection Committee entered the 200-year-old Kheruddin Mosque in Amritsar late Wednesday, burned copies of the Islamic holy book and threw pork, a meat forbidden to Muslims, into the main compound, mosque manager Mohammad Anwar said.

Students were attending Quran classes at the time, Anwar said.

Police cordoned off roads leading to the mosque and posted commandos outside it. An investigation was under way, said A.P. Pandey, the inspector-general of police.

The Hindu group said the attack was in retaliation for the slaughter of cows in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime, which said it needed to atone for the delay in destroying ancient statues of Buddha that were deemed idolatrous. Hindus consider cows sacred.

The desecration in Amritsar, where Muslims number about 30,000 in a population of 150,000 people, came days after clashes between Muslim protesters and police left 14 dead in the northern city of Kanpur.

The clashes began with Muslim outrage over Hindu fundamentalists' burning of a Quran in New Delhi to protest the Taliban's destruction of Afghanistan's pre-Islamic statues.