Afghan Quran Protests Enter 5th Day

Posted February 25th, 2012 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of Afghans are taking part Saturday in a fifth straight day of protests over the burning of Qurans.

Officials say at least 24 people across the country have died since Wednesday in the protests, including two American soldiers.

American apologies about the desecration of the Muslim holy book by NATO forces at Bagram Air Base are failing to calm many people in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

Protesters chanting anti-American slogans demonstrated Friday in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, and in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The demonstrations in Afghanistan have continued despite calls for restraint from NATO and Afghan officials. On Thursday, the Taliban issued a statement calling on Afghans to launch attacks on foreign targets in retaliation for the burning of the Quran.

On Friday, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said the joint coalition and Afghan investigation into the “mishandling of religious materials” at Bagram continues, with witnesses to last Sunday's incident being interviewed.

U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a written apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Wednesday, President Karzai appealed for calm, saying citizens have the right to protest, but should not resort to violence.

The Afghan delegations assigned to probe the incident have also appealed to the Afghan people to avoid resorting to protests.