Protests against an anti-Islam film made in the United States have spread from Libya to several countries across the Middle East, including Egypt and Yemen, where demonstrations turned into violent clashes with police on Thursday.
At least 30 people, including 14 security personnel, were injured in clashes overnight in front of the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports from the scene.
Riot police fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters throwing stones and “Molotov cocktails.”
Protests in Cairo started on Tuesday when crowds of local residents breached the walls of the U.S. embassy and tore down the U.S. flag. Angry demonstrators were later pushed out beyond the compound’s perimeter, but they continue to block access to the building.
The standoff is likely to continue into the weekend as the powerful Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood called on Egyptians to gather for a nationwide protest action on Friday following evening prayers.
Meanwhile, at least one person was killed and dozens injured when protesters stormed the U.S. embassy compound in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on Thursday.
The protesters scaled the perimeter wall and set some of the diplomatic staff cars ablaze, but they were later pushed back by security guards who fired warning shots and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.
The protests swept through Muslim communities around the world following the posting on Tuesday of a short film dubbed "Innocence of Muslims" on YouTube. The movie has been denounced as offensive to Prophet Mohammed and immoral.
The film has been actively promoted by a Florida pastor, Terry Jones, who gained notoriety for threatening to burn and then burning a Koran that set off riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, the New York Times reported.
The most serious fallout of the controversy over the film so far occurred in Libya where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate building.
In response, Washington has sent two destroyers to Libyan waters and a detachment of 50 to secure the main American embassy in the Libyan capital Tripoli, where staff numbers are being cut to emergency levels.