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    Prisoners used Quran pages for messages: Salangi

    CHARIKAR (PAN): Foreign troops had mistakenly burnt some Quran pages used by prisoners for sending messages at the Bagram Airbase in central Parwan province, a provincial council member said on Tuesday.

    Hundreds of people protested against the alleged burning of the Quran by US troops at the airbase, blocking the Kabul-Jalalabad highway on Tuesday morning.

    The protestors, carrying banners inscribed with slogans against Afghan and US governments, claimed the American soldiers had torched four copies of the holy book on Monday night.

    In the Pul-i-Charkhi area on the eastern outskirts of the capital, demonstrators closed the busy road at 8am for several hours.

    Parwan council member Abdul Zahir Salangi told Pajhwok Afghan News local officials and council members had visited foreign troops on the issue. 

    Salangi quoted foreign forces as saying that prisoners had used some pages of the Holy Quran for sending messages outside.

    The pages were collected and mistakenly burnt, he said, adding they were given some pages by foreign troops as evidence. Five Afghan workers detained by US soldiers during a subsequent protest against the allegation have been released.

    Provincial council head Ahmad Zaki Zahid said some religious books, along with a copy of the Quran, had been burnt. “The foreign troops did not understand they were burning religious books,” he added.

    Angry residents called off their protest against the incident in front of the base after a meeting with a delegation.  “They asked us to end the protest because they want access to complete information,” said one of the protestors, Ilyasuddin.

    Meanwhile, ISAF Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, ordered an investigation into the reported sacrilege. “When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities.”

    The top US general said in a 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.”

    mm/ma/mud



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