02/25/2012, 00.00
AFGHANISTAN

Fifth day of protests over Koran burning. UN headquarters in Kunduz attacked

Toll from unrest rises to 20 dead. Another protester killed in Logar province (eastern Turkey). Afghan workers at Bagram base: U.S. military burned the sacred books of ignoring our pleas.

Kabul (AsiaNews) - The toll from five-days of protests over the burning of the Koran has risen to 20 dead and hundreds injured. Today thousands of demonstrators surrounded the UN complex in Kunduz (Northern Afghanistan) trying to storm the building guarded by police and army. In Mehterlam, capital of the eastern province of Logar, a crowd of hundreds of people stormed the offices of the governor. In the clashes, police killed a protester.

Meanwhile, experts say the episode is putting into serious question the image of the U.S. Army and ten years of struggle against Islamic extremism.

In these days the authorities have collected the testimonies of workers employed in the military base in Bagram to shed light on the incident. From the accounts it emerges that the U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Koran while ignoring the pleas of Muslim workers.

Jamil Sayed, an Afghan of 22 years, said that last February 20 he was working with other Afghan colleagues in one of the waste disposal areas on the base, when three soldiers arrived on the site aboard a military truck full of books and religious material and have started to throw the contents into the incinerator. "When we realized that they were copies of the Koran - Jamil says - we alerted the driver asking why they wanted to burn the book. The soldier responded by saying that it was material of the prison and they were ordered to discard it". The men plunged their hands into the oven to try to save the texts, some burning their fingers and hands as they pulled eight Koran copies from the fire, he said. The reaction of the Afghan workers scared the soldiers who fled with the still carrying more than half of the box full of copies of the Koran.

 

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