More Koran protests leave 7 dead in Afghanistan
“Now is not the time for revenge. Now is not the time for vengeance. Now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are.”
Allen, who was accompanied by Afghan National Army Gen. Sher Mohammed Karimi, told soldiers that “now is how we show the Afghan people that as bad as that act was in Bagram, it was unintentional and American and ISAF soldiers do not stand for this.” ISAF is the acronym for the International Security Assistance Force, the formal name of the U.S.-led international military coalition fighting in Afghanistan.
The two U.S. troops were killed during a protest Thursday outside the American base in the Khogyani district of Nangarhar province. Two protesters were killed by Afghan police there before the Afghan soldier turned his gun on U.S. troops. He then fled into the crowd.
Karimi told the U.S. troops that their sacrifice is not wasted.
It was the latest in a rising spate of incidents where Afghan soldiers or police, or militants wearing their uniforms, have shot and killed U.S. and NATO service members.
The unrest started Tuesday, when Afghan workers at the sprawling Bagram air base noticed that Korans and other Islamic texts were in the trash that coalition troops dumped into a pit where garbage is burned. Some Afghan workers burned their fingers as they tried to salvage some of the books. Afghan government officials said initial reports indicated four Korans were burned.
The materials had been taken from a library at Parwan Detention Facility, which adjoins the base, because they contained extremist messages or inscriptions. Writing inside a Koran is forbidden in the Islamic faith, although it was unclear whether the handwritten messages were found in the holy book or other reading materials.
A military official said it appeared that detainees at the prison were exchanging messages by making notations in the texts.
Obama apologized in a letter to Karzai Thursday, expressing “regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled.”
“We don’t care about Obama’s apology,” said Kamaluddin, a 25-year-old Kabul protester who uses only one name. “We have to protest to be responsible to our God. They are burning our Koran. An apology is not enough.”
• Associated Press writer Amir Shah and AP photographer Rahmat Gul in Nangarhar and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.