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Afghan's Karzai demands public trial for Quran burners

Protests spread for a third day throughout Afghanistan despite apologies from NATO and U.S. officials for the inadvertent burning of Qurans. NBC's Atia Abawi reports.

KABUL -- Afghanistan wants NATO to put on public trial those who burned copies of the Quran at a NATO base, President Hamid Karzai's office said Thursday, after a third day of bloody protests over the incident.

It said NATO had agreed to a trial, but that could not be immediately confirmed.


Karzai had earlier accused a U.S. officer of "ignorantly" burning copies of the Quran, in an incident that has deepened anti-Western sentiment in a country NATO is trying to stabilize before foreign combat troops leave by the end of 2014.

Demonstrations have drawn thousands of angry Afghans to the streets, chanting "Death to America!" amid violence that has killed 11 people including two U.S. service personnel.

Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images

Angry Afghans attacked U.S. bases after reports of Quran desecration.

"NATO officials, in response to a request for the trial and punishment of the perpetrators ... promised this crime will brought to court as soon as possible," Karzai's office said in a statement.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Karzai apologizing for the burning of the Qurans, after Afghan laborers found charred copies while collecting rubbish at the sprawling Bagram air base.

Obama apologizes to Afghanistan over Quran burnings

Obama told Karzai the incident was not intentional.

Karzai said an American officer had acted "out of ignorance and with poor understanding" of the Quran's importance, a presidential statement said.

NBC's Afghanistan correspondent answers readers' questions about Quran burning

The Taliban urged Afghan security forces to "turn their guns on the foreign infidel invaders," it said on its site shahamat-english.com.

This article includes reporting by Reuters.

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