NATO probes Quran disposal in Afghanistan


Kabul: The US commander of international troops in Afghanistan on
Tuesday ordered an investigation into the improper disposal of a large
number of Islamic religious materials, including Qurans, at an American
air base north of Kabul.

More than 60 Afghans staged a morning demonstration outside the sprawling
military installation to protest what they said was the burning of the
Muslim holy books.

"We are thoroughly investigating the incident and are taking steps to
ensure this does not ever happen again," US general John Allen, the top
commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, said in a statement. "I
assure you, I promise you, this was not intentional in any way."

Allen said he received a report during the night that people working for
the military coalition improperly disposed of the religious materials. He
did not elaborate.

"When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped
them," Allen said. "The materials recovered will be properly handled by
appropriate religious authorities."

Ahmad Kabir, the chief of Bagram district of Parwan province where the
base is located, said the demonstrators were all people who work inside
the base and that some claimed they had seen pieces of a Quran that was
burned inside the base.

"I haven't seen it myself and we are talking to them and are investigating
to see if is true," Kabir said. "The protesters are nervous over these
claims of the holy book being burned." Kabir called for calm.

"We will investigate and we are asking everyone to calm down and relax,"
he said, adding that the incident was being probed by local Afghan and
police officials and the local provincial council.

Police said a similar protest on Tuesday just east of Kabul ended

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