Unintentional mistakes led to Quran burning in Afghanistan: report
Unintentional mistakes, which could have been headed off at several points along a chain of mishaps, had led to the destruction of the holy Quran at the US base in Afghanistan and six Americans may face disciplinary review over the incident.
American and Afghan officials investigating the Quran burning episode that has plunged US-Afghan relations to a new low say that poor judgement and ignored procedures had let to the blunder, New York Times quoted US military officials in the Afghan capital as saying.
The paper said that the five personnel involved had not intentionally desecrated the holy book and only a series of lapses had led to the incident. An American interpreter would also face disciplinary action.
Afghan religious leaders, the Ulema council, which carried out its own investigation, has demanded that those involved be put on public trial.
Quoting a US military official close to the investigation, NYT said that the joint investigation had sombrely described the burning as a "tragedy", but rejected that it was intentional.
Officials said that the joint commission comprising three senior Afghan security officials and an American military officer was convinced that the military personnel involved in making the decision to get rid of the Quran and those who carried out the order did not set out to defile the Muslim holy book.
The incident happened as prison officials suspected that detained militants were secretly communicating through notes scribbled in library books, possibly to plot an attack. Subsequently worried officials assigned Afghan-American interpreters to sift the libraries books and set aside those writings that might constitute a security risk.
By the time they had finished, 1,652 books were stacked on the floor or removed, including some copies of Quran.
The books were later transported and ultimately taken to an incinerator, and investigators feel that the tragedy could have been averted if the books had just been shifted to other places.
The Times said that a joint Afghan-US investigation is still under legal review by the military and would be followed-up by a more formal US military investigation.
The crisis over the burning of the Quran carried out by American soldiers near the detention centre in Parwan on February 20 has led to nationwide riots in Afghanistan and increased targeting of American troops, leaving at least 29 Afghans and six US soldiers dead in the past week.
The crisis has brought to almost a standstill, cooperation between the Americans and Afghans and complicated every aspect of planning and negotiations for a US military withdrawal.