Afghans Riot After Reports of Koran Destruction at Bagram Military Base

At least they didn’t kill each other this time.
Thousands of Afghans protested outside Bagram military base in Afghanistan today after burnt Korans were found in a trash heap. The kids chucked rocks at the base.

The enraged crowd shouted “Death to Americans” and “Death to infidels” as guards at Bagram airbase, responded by firing rubber bullets from a watchtower, said an AFP photographer, who was hit in the neck. (AFP)

Reuters reported:

More than 2,000 Afghans protested outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday over a report that foreign troops had improperly disposed of copies of the Koran and other religious items, Afghan officials said.

U.S. helicopters fired flares to try to break up the demonstrators, some of whom were chanting anti-foreigner slogans and throwing stones.

Roshna Khalid, the provincial governor’s spokeswoman, said Korans had been burnt inside Bagram airbase, an hour’s drive north of the capital Kabul, citing accounts from local laborers.

“The laborers normally take the garbage outside and they found the remains of Korans,” she said.

The top NATO general in Afghanistan attempted to contain fury over the incident, which could be a public relations disaster for the U.S. military as it tries to pacify the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.

“When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities,” said General John Allen, head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in a written statement, as well as in a video released on a U.S. military website.

“This was NOT intentional in any way.”

The protests took place outside Bagram.

In 2005 Newsweek reported Koran desecration at Gitmo that resulted in riots in Pakistan and Afghanistan that left at least 17 people dead. Newsweek later retracted the story.

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