Afghan attack on US base reaction to Quran burnings

by Nickalas Tabbert

Two Afghans died and seven NATO troops were injured Sunday after demonstrators hurled grenades at a U.S. base in northern Afghanistan.

More than 30 people have been killed, including four U.S. troops, in the past six days the Star Tribune said.  The top diplomat in Afghanistan, however, said that the violence would not change Washington's course.

The protestors threw hand grenades to express their anger at the way some Qurans and other Islamic texts were burned last week at Bagram Airfield near the captial city of Kabul.

"Tensions are running very high here, and I think we need to let things calm down, return to a more normal atmosphere, and then get on with buisness," Ambassador Ryan Crocker told CNN.

"This is not the time to decide that we're done here," he said.  "We have got to redouble our efforts.  We've got to create a situation in which al-Qaida is not coming back."

The attack on the base followed the death of two U.S. military advisers – a lieutenant colonel and a major – who were shot in the head in their office at the Interior Ministry in the capital.  The killings occurred in one of the city's most heavily guarded buildings and raised doubts about safety as coalition troops continue their withdrawal.

NATO, Britain and France recalled hundreds of international advisers from all Afghan ministries in the capital.  The advisers are important in helping improve governance and preparing Afghanistan's security forces to take on added responsibility.

President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials have apologized for the burnings, but to the dismay of many Afghans, who say the incident illustrates foreigners' disrespect for their culture and religion.