Afghan demonstrators shouted anti U.S.-slogans during a protest last week in response to the burning of Qurans
Photo by Gulrahim/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: U.S. military investigators have concluded that five American soldiers were involved in the burning of Qurans last week in Afghanistan, an incident that has sparked deadly protests and fueled attacks on NATO troops that have killed six U.S. troops.
The Washington Post reports that the American soldiers involved in the burning will be reprimanded and possibly lose rank, but they will remain unidentified. While some Afghan leaders have demanded a public trial for those involved, followed by severe punishment, U.S. officials say that there was "no ill will" on the part of the soldiers.
The Post, which was briefed by officials familiar with the military report, explains what they say happened:
Investigators appointed by Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, found that the soldiers removed the Korans from a prison located at Bagram air base after they were found to contain extremist messages.
The books were then placed in an office for safekeeping, according to the inquiry. But they were mistaken for garbage and taken to a landfill on the base.
President Obama and top military leaders have already apologized for the accidental burning. But those apologies, as well as the conclusions of the military investigation, have done little to appease Afghan clerics, Reuters reports.
"The council emphasized that the apology for this evil act can never be accepted," members of a council of clerics said in a statement released by President Hamid Karzai's office. "Those who committed this crime must be publicly tried and punished."
Meanwhile, an investigation of the investigation by the Afghan government is expected to conclude in the next several days.
Thursday, March 1: The Associated Press reports that the two Americans were killed at a joint NATO-Afghan base in an attack by a small group that included an Afghan soldier and a literacy teacher at the base. U.S. officials believe there were likely three attackers, two of whom were killed by return fire. A third soldier was also wounded during the attack.
At least 30 Afghans have died, and scores more injured, amid the ongoing riots and anti-American unrest.
The U.S. troops were part of the NATO coalition working with Afghan security forces, raising questions about the training of Afghan security as foreign troops plan to withdraw by 2014. The AP explains:
"The shootings on Thursday were the latest in a series of attacks by Afghan security forces — or militants disguised in their uniforms — against Americans and other members of the international alliance. Last month the Pentagon released data showing that 75 percent of the more than 45 insider attacks since 2007 occurred in the last two years."
Three investigations into the Quran burnings—which President Obama and military officials have since apologized for— have been undertaken in the last week: one by the military, another by the Afghan security forces, and a third by a joint American-Afghan panel. The U.S. report could come out as soon as next week, and is the only one that could lead to punishment, according the New York Times.