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NATO commander in Afghanistan apologizes for alleged Quran burning

(Xinhua)

15:33, February 21, 2012

KABUL, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- The commander of NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan General John R. Allen has rendered his apology for the alleged burning of Muslim Holy book Quran and ordered an investigation, a statement of the alliance released here Tuesday said.

"I have ordered an investigation into a report I received during the night that ISAF personnel at the Bagram Airbase improperly disposed of a large number of Islamic religious materials which included Korans," the U.S. General said in the statement.

Hundreds of people have gathered outside the Bagram Airbase, the main U.S. military center in Afghanistan Tuesday morning to protest what they described as the desecration of Muslim Holy book Quran.

A detention center is also inside the Bagram base where hundreds of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida operatives have been held.

To support the protest, hundreds of others came to the streets and blocked the Kabul-Jalalabad road in Kabul city.

"I offer my sincere apologies for any offense this may have caused, to the President of Afghanistan, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan," General Allen said in the statement.

"I would like to thank the local Afghan people who helped us identify the error, and who worked with us to immediately take corrective action," the commander of some 130,000-strong NATO-led troops with around 90,000 of them Americans said in the statement.

"We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you ... I promise you ... this was NOT intentional in any way."

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