Afghan Koran protest turns deadly

Two civilians and a Nato soldier have been killed in Afghanistan during a demonstration over the shooting of the Koran by a US soldier in Iraq.

The protest by over 1,000 people in Chagcharan turned violent after the crowd tried to storm a Nato base.

President Bush apologised earlier this week for the Koran incident, in which a copy of the book was found riddled with bullets at a shooting range in Iraq.

He also promised the soldier would be prosecuted.

The shooting broke out during clashes between the police and demonstrators outside a Nato reconstruction team base commanded by Lithuanian soldiers in Chagcharan, the capital of Ghor province.

Protesters were chanting anti-US slogans and throwing rocks, and tried to enter the gates of the base, police said.

General Ikramuddin Yawar, chief of police in western Afghanistan, said: "There was shooting during the demonstration. Two civilians have been killed. We don't know who shot them."

He added that the protest had been organised by students from a religious school.

But Nato said that Afghan police killed the two civilians, according to Reuters.


Nato also said in a statement that 10 Afghan police and seven civilians had been wounded in the incident.

A spokesman for Nato's International Security Force in Afghanistan (Isaf), Major Martin O'Donnell, said: "Isaf vehemently condemns this violence."

He added: "It is the people's right in a free and democratic society to stage peaceful demonstrations. Violent demonstrations, such as this, have no place in Afghanistan. Violent demonstrations cause tragedies such as we have witnessed today."

President Bush's apology was made during a video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

The soldier was sent home by the US military after the copy of the Koran was discovered by Iraqi police.

He was unnamed, but said to be a staff sergeant in a sniper section.