Afghans are finding it hard to believe that US troops from the northern city of Bagram’s military base burned prisoner’s Korans “by mistake”, as contrite top US brass have tried to explain. The news sparked three days of deadly protests in cities across the country.
On Tuesday, Afghan workers found the burnt remains of several copies of the Muslim holy book in a pile of trash that had been incinerated by American soldiers.
US military commanders immediately tried to appease the crowd by publicly apologizing and saying the books were burned “by mistake”. The top US and NATO commander, Gen. John Allen, telephoned President Hamid Karzai and major news organizations to explain that a collection of religious materials, including Korans, was mistakenly sent for incineration. As soon as someone realized what they were burning, they stopped and retrieved what was left, Allen said.
In a video address to the Afghan people, he added: “I assure you, I promise you, this was not in any way intentional, and we are taking steps to make sure this never happens again.”
In Washington, US Defence secretary Leon Panetta also publicly apologized.
On Thursday, President Obama also apologized in a letter
handed to President Hamid Karzai by the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker.
But the apologies did little to calm Afghans’ anger. Violent clashes between angry Afghan protesters and US troops in the past three days have left at least eleven people dead, including two US troops
Video posted on YouTube by Sharifullah Shahak.