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Karzai urges Afghans 'not to resort to violence' over Quran burning

Kabul, Thu, 23 Feb 2012 ANI

Kabul, Feb 23 (ANI): Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has urged his country security forces "not to resort to violence" over the burning of Qurans at a US airbase near Kabul.


"Afghan security forces should not use violence, and protect civilian lives and property," Karzai said in a statement.


Over 2,000 angry Afghans recently demonstrated against the burning of the holy books in a pile of garbage at Bagram Air Field, a sprawling US base in Kabul.


The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiments and fueled the arguments of Afghans who claim foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.


Seven people have died and dozens left injured in protests over the burning, The BBC reports.


Four deaths were confirmed in the Shinwari district of Parwan province, north of Kabul. There were also peaceful protests in the eastern province of Kunar, the report said.


Afghan lawmakers have condemned the incident, and called for punishment of those responsible and asked the government to send its own delegation to Bagram to establish exactly what happened and why.


Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney apologized for the "deeply unfortunate incident," saying it doesn't reflect the respect the US military has for the religious practices of the Afghan people.


US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also said that he disapproved of the conduct, and promised to review the results of the coalition's investigation to ensure that all steps are taken to prevent it from happening again.


US General John Allen, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, also apologized to the Afghan people and said the books were inadvertantly given to troops for burning. (ANI)


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