The protests continued at the fortress-like U.S. Embassy, which, unlike the German and British missions, is outside the city center for security reasons. But there, Sudanese police who had been pre-positioned confronted the demonstrators with tear gas.
Still, Nuland said, at least three protesters reached the top of an embassy complex wall before Sudanese security moved them back to the streets below. One embassy spokesman, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, said some embassy property was damaged but added that reports of a “major breach” were inaccurate.
Most U.S. employees were not in the embassy because Friday is not a work day in Sudan, and there were no reports of injuries to Americans.
In Egypt’s restive Sinai, protesters gathered in front of a U.N. peacekeeping base for what started as a peaceful protest. But the gathering quickly turned violent, as the protesters breached the fence surrounding the camp, began shooting, set a truck on fire, and raised a jihadi flag on a tower. Two camp soldiers fired back and injured two protesters. Egyptian forces arrived, sending protesters scurrying.
Two Colombian soldiers inside were injured by rocks thrown at them.
The complexity of the situation was evident in Egypt, where on Tuesday demonstrators had scaled the 12-foot wall that surrounds the U.S. Embassy compound in Cairo and tore down the American flag in anger over the video, a crude 14-minute clip posted online that depicts Muhammad as a perverse womanizer.
Security near the embassy was noticeably tighter on Friday, after President Barack Obama had what White House spokesman Carney called “an important conversation” with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi “about the need to protect our embassy and our personnel in Cairo and the need to denounce the violence.”
Carney said Obama was “very clear with President Morsi about Egypt’s responsibilities as a host nation to provide security to diplomatic facilities and diplomatic personnel.” After the conversation, Morsi for the first time denounced the embassy attack and a key member of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi was a member before he ascended to the presidency, apologized for the violence in a letter published in The New York Times.
Protesters converging on the embassy Friday also found a physical manifestation of the new Egyptian attitude – a hurriedly constructed wall on the road leading to the embassy intended to allow security forces to better defend the compound against attacks. On Friday, security forces launched volley after volley of tear gas at demonstrators who approached it.
But whether that will be enough to halt the demonstrations remained to be seen. Standing in front of the new wall, the demonstrators’ demands were a moving target. Some said they wanted the United States to apologize for the video. Told that both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had condemned the video earlier this week, they then said they wanted an investigation. Told that the U.S. was looking into the video, they said they wanted it removed from YouTube, a step outside U.S. government control.
In the end, many made unattainable demands – the shutting down of U.S. embassies across the region or the death of those who made the film. Few had actually seen the video.