- NEW: Protests against anti-Islamic video in Indonesia, Thailand, reports say
- Taliban group says Afghanistan suicide attack was in retribution for video
- Al Qaeda urges killing of U.S. government representatives across Muslim lands
- A U.S. Muslim leader says there should be "no reaction to such an insignificant production"
Editor's note: Read a version of this story in Arabic
(CNN) -- As part of the fallout from an online video that mocks Islam's holy prophet, al Qaeda's affiliate in North Africa on Tuesday urged Muslims in the region to kill U.S. government representatives and called the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens a "gift."
"We encourage all Muslims to continue to demonstrate and escalate their protests ... and to kill their (American) ambassadors and representatives or to expel them to cleanse our land from their wickedness," said the statement from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The group called last week's killing of Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, "the best gift you (can) give to his arrogant and unjust administration."
The video, "The Innocence of Muslims," is a low-budget, amateurish 14-minute movie trailer produced privately in the United States and posted on YouTube. The clip mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
Islam forbids any depictions of Mohammed, and blasphemy is taboo among many in the Muslim world.
The video was relatively obscure until September 11 when rioters seizing on it breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Protesters also attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Stevens and three other Americans.
Although Washington has made it clear it did not sanction the film, a wave of protests since then has rippled from Morocco to Malaysia, spurring U.S. officials to increase security at diplomatic missions and demand other governments to take action.
Here are the latest key developments:
Suicide attack in Afghanistan
A Taliban-allied insurgent group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that killed 12 people, including eight South Africans, in Afghanistan. The attack was a response to the film, the group said.
Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, a group allied with the Taliban, said a 22-year-old woman drove a car packed with 660 pounds (300 kilograms) of explosives into a van on a road leading to Kabul International Airport.
Eleven others were wounded in the attack, the Afghan Interior Ministry said.
The escalating tensions have spilled into NATO military operations in the central Asia nation, prompting the alliance to order its troops to adjust joint operations with Afghan security forces to minimize attacks on them by their local allies.
"Recent events outside of and inside Afghanistan related to the 'Innocence of Muslims' video plus the conduct of recent insider attacks have given cause for ISAF troops to exercise increased vigilance and carefully review all activities and interactions with the local population," said a spokeswoman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force. The operations with Afghan forces could increase as the "threat level" goes down, she said.
About 100 demonstrators gathered Tuesday near a U.S. diplomatic facility in Medan, Indonesia, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta reported on its website. Indonesian authorities were deploying about 150 police officers to the Medan protest and adding security outside the U.S. facility in Jakarta, although no protests were taking place there, the embassy said.
In Indian-administered Kashmir, a general strike flared, shutting down businesses, public transport and most government operations, with reports of sporadic violence. A coalition of religious parties and separatist groups called the strike as a protest against the video.
In Thailand, a peaceful crowd protested in heavy rain in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok for about 90 minutes Tuesday, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported. No violence was reported, the newspaper said.
U.S. officials were aware of the planned protest and made plans to close the building to the public and send home nonessential personnel, the embassy said on its website.
In Iran, students at universities staged protest rallies Tuesday against the film and the United States. They chanted, "Death to the U.S.," and "Death to Israel," the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.
Protests linked to the video were larger and more widespread Monday when demonstrators took to the streets in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.
Answering a call from the leader of Hezbollah -- deemed a terrorist organization by the United States -- thousands packed the streets of Beirut's southern suburbs Monday and chanted, "Death to America!"
But Monday's protests weren't on the scale of those last week, nor did they provoke the same level of international crisis by endangering U.S. diplomatic missions.
Still, the fact that the demonstrations are continuing -- and that they have occurred in more than 20 countries -- suggests the anti-American furor tied to the inflammatory film isn't going away.
Investigation into ambassador's killing
Libya has taken steps to arrest those responsible for last week's deadly consulate attack, bringing in dozens for questioning over the weekend, Libyan officials said. The exact number of arrests was unclear. One Libyan official said those arrested included suspects from Mali and Algeria as well as al Qaeda sympathizers.
Wanes al-Sharif, a deputy interior minister whose jurisdiction included eastern Libya, was fired a day after the Benghazi attack, according to documents CNN obtained Monday. No reason was given for al-Sharif's dismissal. Notably, he told reporters after the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi assault that he'd ordered a security force mobilized during the unrest "to leave the area because of the large number of protesters."
The FBI also is investigating the Libya attack but has yet to enter the country because of volatility there. In the meantime, FBI agents are interviewing witnesses outside Libya, federal law enforcement officials said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters over the weekend that the worst of the violence appeared over, but the United States is maintaining tight security anyway.
Nonessential personnel have been ordered to leave American diplomatic missions in Sudan, Tunisia and Libya. In Yemen, consular services were suspended until the end of the month. And on Monday, the U.S. State Department -- citing "current safety and security concerns" -- urged U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon.
But the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the scene of five consecutive days of protests, returned to full staffing Sunday, the State Department said.
Filmmaker in hiding, video blocked
Federal officials said the man behind the film that sparked the worldwide protests is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon with a history of using aliases to hide his actions. Nakoula is on probation for bank fraud.
Nakoula and his family have left their Cerritos, California, home for an unidentified location, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Monday.
Reports that Nakoula is a Coptic Christian have raised concern about a possible backlash against the minority religious group in Egypt, where tensions between Copts and Muslims have risen recently. He initially told The Wall Street Journal that he was an Israeli.
Nakoula denied he made the film, according to Bishop Serapion, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, citing a phone conversation with him last week. At a news conference Monday, the Coptic leader condemned violence by protesters which, he said, "only serves to continue the hate."
"There should have been no bloodshed," echoed local Muslim leader Maher Hathout, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, at the same Los Angeles event. "As a matter of fact, there should have been no reaction to such an insignificant production."
Efforts to block film spread
The Russian prosecutor general's office said Monday it will seek to block the movie, which it has labeled extremist, and Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov warned the country may block YouTube over the video, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.
A day after the protests broke out, YouTube announced it was restricting access to the video, and since then, Google India has blocked access. Google is YouTube's parent company.
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh also have ordered an indefinite block of YouTube to prevent people there from watching the clip.
Despite U.S. government officials' firm condemnation, some in the Muslim world -- especially those raised in regimes in which the government must authorize any film -- cannot accept that a movie such as "Innocence of Muslims" can be made without Washington's blessing, Council of Foreign Relations scholar Ed Husain said.
"They're projecting ... their experience, their understanding (that) somehow the U.S. government is responsible for the actions of a right-wing fellow," said Husain, a senior fellow at the New York think thank.
CNN's Mukhtar Ahmad, Jomana Karadsheh, Mohammed Tawfeeq, Miguel Marquez, Anna Coren, Nasir Habib, Reza Sayah, Jessica King, Chelsea J. Carter, Tom Watkins, Greg Botelho and journalist Farid Ahmed contributed to this report.