Police fire tear gas at fresh Charlie Hebdo protest in Niger

NIAMEY, Niger - Police on Saturday fired tear gas at a fresh demonstration in Niger against French weekly Charlie Hebdo's publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

At least 1,000 youths assembled at the grand mosque in the capital Niamey, some of them throwing rocks at police while others burned tyres and chanted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is Greatest").

Saturday's protest came a day after a policeman and three civilians were killed and 45 injured in protests against Charlie Hebdo in Niger's second city of Zinder, which saw three churches ransacked and the French cultural centre burned down.

Thousands of Muslims demonstrated across the world on Friday, venting fury over the new Prophet Mohammed cartoon that Charlie Hebdo published in the wake of Islamist attacks on its offices and elsewhere in Paris last week.

Many Muslims see any depiction of Islam's prophet as offensive, while many Western governments support Charlie Hebdo's position that publishing the cartoons is an exercise in freedom of expression.

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday stressed that the country had "principles, values, notably freedom of expression".

The satirical weekly has repeatedly published cartoons of Mohammed over the years and its latest issue, released on Wednesday, features a cartoon of Mohammed on its cover holding a "Je Suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) sign under the headline "All is forgiven".

It came a week after attacks by three Islamists on its offices, a kosher supermarket and a policewoman left 17 people dead in and around Paris over three days, in raids that deeply shocked the country and sparked an outpouring of international support.