U.S. Service Member Killed in Afghanistan Bomb

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KABUL -- A bomb killed an American service member in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Sunday, as Afghan police fired shots in the air to disperse up to 1,000 students protesting a rumor that U.S. troops burned a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

A U.S. statement said the American was killed Saturday in southern Afghanistan but gave no further details.

At least 34 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan this month.

This has been the deadliest year for international and U.S. forces since the 2001 invasion to oust the Taliban. Fighting spiked around the presidential vote in August, and 51 U.S. soldiers died that month - the deadliest for American forces in the eight-year war.

During their protest Sunday, Afghan students burned an effigy of President Barack Obama and marched from Kabul University to the parliament building, where riot police turned them back with shots in the air. There were no reports of casualties.

One of the demonstrators, who gave his name as Zabiulllah, said "the people behind this humiliation should be arrested."

U.S. and Afghan authorities have denied a rumor that American troops burned a copy of the Quran during an operation two weeks earlier in Wardak province. They say Taliban supporters spread the false report to stir trouble.

The report has sparked similar protests in Wardak and Khost provinces.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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