The demonstration in the eastern city of Jalalabad came after the US embassy in Kabul warned its citizens to be on their guard, mindful of a wave of deadly protests last month against the burning of Holy Qurans at a US military base.
About 400 university students in Jalalabad shouted “Death to America - Death to (Barack) Obama”, burning the US president’s effigy and blocking the main highway to Kabul.
“Jihad (holy war) is the only way to get the invading Americans out of Afghanistan,” one banner read, before the protesters dispersed peacefully after about two hours. The students, echoing a call by the Afghan parliament on Monday, also demanded that the US soldier be tried in public in Afghanistan.
Separately, gunmen on Tuesday attacked an Afghan memorial service for 16 villagers killed by the US soldier, shooting dead a member of the Afghan military and wounding a policeman in a hail of gunfire.
It was the first deadly violence linked to the aftermath of Sunday’s killings that the Taliban had vowed to avenge and US officials had warned could lead to a surge in anti-American violence in the war-torn country.
Two of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers were in the delegation from Kabul, along with provincial government officials, a local reporter at the scene in Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar province told AFP.
“There was an armed attack on them from a distance and the firing continued for about 10 minutes,” he said. “Bullets were coming like rain on us,” another witness told AFP. The interior ministry later confirmed that one Afghan soldier died.
“One or more enemies were hiding there. When the delegation arrived they fired - one soldier is dead and a policeman is injured,” ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The dignitaries had left the area, with some heading back to Kandahar city, about 45 km away, while others remained to continue an investigation into Sunday’s shootings, a member of the delegation said.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban threatened on Tuesday to behead US troops in revenge for the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by the lone American soldier. “The Islamic Emirate once again warns the American animals that the mujahedeen will avenge them, and with the help of Allah will kill and behead your sadistic murderous soldiers,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement, using the term with which the group describes itself.
A US Army staff sergeant has been taken into custody, accused of walking off his base in the volatile province of Kandahar in the middle of night and gunning down at least 16 villagers, mostly women and children. A US official said the accused soldier had suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq.
The United States and the rest of the 130,000-strong NATO mission in Afghanistan are scheduled to withdraw combat troops by the end of 2014 and hand over responsibility for national security to their Afghan counterparts. The Afghan parliament and the Ulema Council, the country’s highest religious authority, has demanded that the US soldier be tried in public, but the United States has said he will be subject to US military law.
Briefing reporters en route to a visit to Kyrgyzstan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the death penalty could apply. “My understanding is in these instances that could be a consideration,” he said. The US army sergeant was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan after serving three tours in Iraq, according to US officials.