‘Quran burning’ triggers Afghan protests
Top NATO commander apologises and orders investigation into reported incident as protesters besiege Bagram airbase.
Hundreds of Afghans have staged angry protests at two sites in and around the capital Kabul, angered by reports that NATO troops had set fire to copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
General John Allen, the American commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, offered his apology and ordered an investigation into the incident as protesters shouting “Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar” [God is great] besieged the US-run airbase in Bagram on Tuesday, firing slingshots and petrol bombs.
Guards at the base, about 60Km north of Kabul, responded by firing rubber bullets from a watchtower, an AFP news agency photographer said.
Another protest by about 500 people broke out in the Pul-e-Charkhi district of Kabul, not far from major NATO bases on the Jalalabad road, Ashamat Estanakzai, an Afghan police spokesman, told AFP.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from the city of Herat, said: “We don’t know if the religious literature was burned, but we know that it was due to be burned because waste at the base is burned generally.
“We do know it was being thrown out. That is what’s caused the protests outside Bagram, about 800-1,000 people were protesting there.
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