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Obama apologises over Koran burning

US: President Barack Obama was forced to apologise over the burning of Korans at a US airbase in Afghanistan, where three days of violent protests have killed 14 people, including two American soldiers. Kabul was bracing Friday for further anti-US demonstrations that have seen furious Afghans attack French, Norwegian and US bases after the Taliban exhorted their countrymen to kill foreign troops to avenge the incident.

Afghanistan is a deeply religious country where slights against Islam have frequently provoked violent protests, and many Afghans are incensed at the discovery of charred Korans at Bagram airbase north of Kabul. In a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Obama Thursday expressed “deep regret” over the incident that he said had been unintentional, and pledged that those responsible would be held accountable, Kabul said.

“I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies,” Obama wrote in the letter presented to Karzai by US ambassador Ryan Crocker. “The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.” Karzai said a US officer was responsible -- “out of ignorance” -- for the Koran burning, the president's office said.

Obama's apology came in for strong criticism back home, with partisan politics playing a part as competition builds in a presidential election year. AFP

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