Obama sorry over Afghan Koran burning

 

Kabul

President Barack Obama has apologised to the Afghan people for the burning of copies of the Koran at a US military base in Bagram.

The apology follows three days of violent protests in the country in response to the incident which has left several protesters dead and culminated in the killing of two US soldiers by a man in an Afghan army uniform.

The Afghans' furious response to the Koran burning reflected the anger at what they perceive as foreign forces' disrespect for Afghan laws and culture.

In a letter sent to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mr Obama expressed his administration's "regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled".

Mr Karzai's office said Mr Obama called the Koran burnings "inadvertent", adding that the US "will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible".

US apologies for the desecration – and an appeal from Mr Karzai for calm – have failed to temper the anger of Afghans, who staged rallies in seven provinces yesterday, sparking clashes with Afghan police and security forces that left at least five demonstrators dead. Seven protesters were killed in clashes on Wednesday.

The two Nato service members were killed in eastern Afghanistan by a man dressed in an Afghan army uniform. Both soldiers were Americans, according to a US official.

Mohammad Hassan, an official in Nangarhar province where the shooting took place, said the two Americans were shot by an Afghan soldier after soldiers fired in the air to disperse protesters outside a US base in the Khogyani district. Two protesters were also killed in the ensuing gunfire, Afghan officials said.

The Taliban yesterday called on Afghans to attack foreign troops, and its spokesman has issued a statement ordering its commanders to embrace and protect the families of any Afghan policeman or soldier who turns his gun on foreign troops. "Call them heroes," the Taliban spokesman said.

The riots erupted on Tuesday after Afghan workers at the main American military base, Bagram Air Field, saw soldiers dumping books in a pit where garbage is burned and noticed Korans and other religious material among the trash. The top US and Nato commander, General John Allen, quickly issued an apology and telephoned Mr Karzai and major news organisations to explain that a collection of religious materials, including Korans, had mistakenly been sent to be incinerated. As soon as someone realised what they were burning, they stopped and retrieved what was left, General Allen said.

Four copies of the Koran were burned before the incineration was halted, according to initial Afghan government reports.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Mortgage Advisor - OTE £95,000

£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy