Koran-Burning Protests in Afghanistan Turn Deadly

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Four people have been killed many more wounded during the second day of anti-U.S. protests in Afghanistan, though no one seems to know (or will admit) who fired bullets into the angry crowds. Protests began yesterday at several American facilities in and around Kabul and Jalalabad after news broke that NATO forces had taken copies of the Koran from detained prisoners at Bagram Air Force Base and burned them. Demonstrators threw rocks and burned tires outside a military base in Kabul and they also blocked the main road leading from Kabul to Jalalabad, as word spread throughout the country, leading more protests in other cities.

Reports are scattered and fragmented, but it appears that there were at least two shooting incidents (one in each city), possibly from "security forces" or Afghan police firing in the air to drive back surging crowds. A police spokesperson denied to Al Jazeera that police shot at protesters and it's not clear if "security forces" means Afghan soliders or foreign contractors. The only thing that is certain is the scenes are growing more chaotic and harder to control as the day goes on.

There are no reports that American troops were involved in the shootings, but that may not make much difference to those who already feel continually insulted by the Americans and their presence. The U.S. embassy has been placed on lockdown and all travel by personnel has been suspended across Afghanistan. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has apologized for the incident, saying the burning was inadvertent and was stopped as soon as it was learned what had happened. However, the BBC quoted one protester saying that the apology was useless and another who added, "When the Americans insult us to this degree, we will join the insurgents."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.