Protests Over Koran Burning Controversy: U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on Lockdown

on February 22 2012 7:16 AM

The U.S. embassy in Kabul has been on lockdown in the wake of widespread protests in multiple Afghan cities over disrespectful burning of the Islamic scripture Koran, which the U.S. military said was caused inadvertently.

The Embassy is on lockdown; all travel suspended, the embassy announced on its Twitter page Wednesday. Please, everyone, be safe out there, the embassy tweeted.

Anti-American protesters have been chanting angry slogans against the U.S. outside housing complexes for foreigners. Security forces, in order to contain the riots fired gunshots into the air to disperse the crowd. Gunfire wounded at least 26 people, according to a Reuters report.

The Pentagon has apologized for the burning of the Koran in a trash dump at the biggest U.S. military base in Afghanistan which triggered the protests.

These actions do not represent the views of the United States military, George Little, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Tuesday.

U.S. defense Secretary Leon Panetta condemned the burning of Islamic holy scripture, terming it inadvertent.

We apologize to the Afghan people and disapprove of such conduct in the strongest possible terms, White House said in a statement which the U.S. embassy posted on Twitter.

Abdul Basir Salangi, the governor of Parwan province, said the incident will act as a big victory for the Taliban as it has worsened the image of U.S.-led forces in the minds of Afghani citizens.

This incident is a big victory for the Taliban because Afghans will believe what they say -- that the foreigners are here to dishonor our book and Islamic culture, Abdurrahim Muqdader, a tribal elder in the province, told Bloomberg in a phone interview, echoing Salangi's views.

Afghanistan saw agitated protests last month when a video was posted on the Internet which showed four U.S. Marines urinating on the Taliban guerrillas' corpses. Pentagon had condemned the incident.

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