WARDAK, Afghanistan – Protests are sweeping Afghanistan in the wake of allegations that American forces had burned copies of the Koran during a patrol in a province near Kabul – a charge strongly denied by a United States military spokesperson.
Hundreds of students turned out in two separate demonstrations in the capital, Kabul, on October 25, one staged in front of the parliament building and another began at Kabul University and moved towards the center of town. There were no reports of casualties, although police were forced to fire warning shots in an attempt to control the crowds.
The Kabul disturbances were just the latest in a series of protests that followed rumors of a Koran-burning incident in central-eastern Wardak province. Students and residents in Wardak, Jalalabad, Khost, Logar and Kandahar also held demonstrations after reports began to circulate that US troops had burned Korans in Wardak, which borders Kabul.
The incident that sparked the unrest allegedly occurred on October 15, during a routine patrol by US forces near Khwajagan village. An American tank hit a mine, say villagers, and soldiers began a house-to-house search for insurgents. Not finding anyone, they allegedly burned copies of the Koran they found in one of the houses they had raided.
“The soldiers went to Khwaja Fazlurahman’s house,” said Khwaja Qandol, a resident of the village. “There were only women there at the time. When they did not find anybody, they took six copies of the Koran from the bookcase and burned them in the center of the room.” …