Adding to a chorus of profuse apologies from U.S. officials over the burning incident, Obama wrote a three-page letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on bilateral relations that included "an expression of his regret and apologies for the inappropriate and inadvertent mishandling of religious materials," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Karzai's office demanded that the coalition bring to justice as soon as possible those responsible for burning Qurans and other Islamic religious materials Monday at Bagram, a major air base north of Kabul used by American forces. The latest embarrassing incident to mar U.S. efforts to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, it has led to a series of demonstrations that could grow today, with large crowds expected to gather after weekly prayers.
Hundreds of Afghans reportedly demonstrated yesterday, occasionally clashing with Afghan security forces deployed to quell the unrest. Reports from provincial officials said that two Afghans were killed in Uruzgan province, in southern Afghanistan, and others died in Baghlan, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition confirmed that two of its soldiers had died in eastern Afghanistan, but didn't release their nationalities. Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said that a protester in an Afghan national army uniform had opened fire on foreign and Afghan security forces and they fired back.