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