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US diplomats destroy classified documents as anti-US protests spread through Muslim world

United States diplomats in Beirut have destroyed documents for security reasons as anti-US protests sparked by the "Innocence of Muslims" film continue.

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Afghan policemen walk towards the crowd on Jalalabad Road during an anti-US protest in Kabul on September 17, 2012. Hundreds of Afghans staged a violent protest in Kabul on Monday against an American film mocking the Prophet Mohammed, throwing stones at a US base, torching cars and shouting 'Death to America', police said. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Diplomats are destroying classified documents and sending local employees home at the US Embassy in Beirut, the Associated Press reported.

A State Department report obtained by the AP says that the Beirut embassy has "reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings." Officials downplayed their actions to the AP, saying that the Beirut embassy is secure and not facing any imminent threats. 

The diplomats nonetheless are taking security measures as anti-American protests continue to erupt across the Muslim world, most recently spreading in Asia.

In Afghanistan and Indonesia, protesters burned US flags and chanted "Death to America" on Monday, Reuters reported. Thousands of protesters in Kabul set cars and stores on fire and threw stones at police. In Jakarta, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the US Embassy. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, according to Reuters.

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In Pakistan, at least one protester has been killed in a violent demonstration, BBC News reported. And an angry rally in the Philippines city of Marawai has attracted thousands of people.

In North Africa, a hard-line Tunisian Muslim has also been encouraging protests against the local US Embassy. But the man, known as Abu Yadh, has recently retreated, the Associated Press reported. He has reportedly been hiding in a mosque in Tunisia with supporters as police surrounded the area. 

The State Department-ordered destruction of documents in Beirut, meanwhile, also comes as a Hezbollah leader made a rare public speech in Beirut's suburbs, Reuters reported.

"The world should know our anger will not be a passing outburst but the start of a serious movement that will continue on the level of the Muslim nation to defend the Prophet of God," Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told tends of thousands of protesters. 

The map below shows the spread of protest activity around the world since Tuesday:

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/lebanon/120917/us-diplomats-destroy-classified-documents-anti-us-protests-continue