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In Afghanistan, signs of more trouble over Koran burning

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REPORTING FROM KABUL, Afghanistan -- There are ominous signs that any perceived failure to adequately punish U.S. troops responsible for burning Korans could lead to a new round of angry protests.

A group of politically powerful Muslim clerics who met with President Hamid Karzai denounced the Koran-burning as an ‘inhumane, savage act’ and said no apology would suffice, the presidential palace said in a statement. They demanded a public trial for those involved in the incident.

Protests raged last week after Afghan workers discovered Korans catching fire in a burn pit on a U.S.-run military installation north of Kabul. More than three dozen people died, including six military personnel who died at the hands of Afghan colleagues.

Pending the formal release of findings, the violence has largely sputtered out. Friday prayers, the most important religious event of the Muslim week, passed without more protests.

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But in releasing the clerics’ statement, Karzai appeared to be seeking leverage for his demand that the detention facility at Bagram, the source of the Islamic texts that were burned, be handed over to Afghan control.

His office quoted the clerics as demanding ‘the closure of prisons run by foreigners.’

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-- Laura King


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