Gary: A gunman got past a heavily secured section at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior in the capital city of Kabul. He shot and killed two American military officers, then disappeared.
“An individual pulled his weapon and opened fire on members of the International Security Assistance Force.”
Gary: The dead men are believed to be a U.S. colonel and a major.
The Taliban, the Muslim extremist group which once controlled Afghanistan, is claiming responsibility, saying the shooting was retaliation for the burning of Islam’s holiest book, the Quran.
A week ago, U.S. soldiers accidentally burned copies of the Quran along with regular garbage, setting off a week of protests. On Thursday, President Barack Obama apologized for the mistake but that hasn’t stopped the violence. Angry crowds are targeting U.S. bases, foreign missions and government buildings, and they are venting their fury on anyone seen to be working with the American military.
Hours after the president’s apology, two American soldiers were shot by an Afghan soldier: 25-year-old Army Sergeant Joshua born of Niceville, Florida, and 22-year-old Army Corporal Timothy Conrad Jr. of Roanoke, Virginia.
Dozens of Afghans have also been killed and hundreds wounded since word got out Tuesday that the religious materials had been desecrated.
For Muslims, the Quran is considered the literal word of God. The book itself is sacred, and desecrating it in any way is considered a horrible offense.
It is not the first time that protests have erupted over the burning of the Quran. Last year, a Florida pastor set fire to the Quran, saying he believed the Islamic religion promotes violence. The pastor’s actions ignited protests across the Muslim world and were blamed for the deaths of seven foreign workers in Afghanistan. U.S. officials accused the pastor of putting U.S. troops in harms way.
Because of this latest incident involving the Quran, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan is withdrawing all advisers from government ministries, saying he is concerned about their safety.
This is not a good sign for the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan. Those advisers are helping to train Afghans to handle their own security to prepare for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014.
Gary Hamilton, Channel One News.