Two More Americans Killed in Afghanistan
An Afghan solider and literacy teacher at a joint base in southern Afghanistan killed two Americans Thursday.
Both soldiers were killed in response to the burning of Qurans by U.S. soldiers on Feb, 20. This marks the sixth death of Americans in Afghanistan in response to the incident.
The deaths coincided with the top NATO commander’s approval of a small number of foreign advisers to return to work at Afghan ministries. The foreign advisers were on lock down in secure locations for more than a week because of the four previous American deaths.
Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, approved the return of select personnel according to the U.S. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings. However, a NATO official said that it was only less than a dozen advisers who were permitted to return to work.
Mohammad Mohssan, an Afghan Army spokesperson in Kandahar city, confirmed the incident took place at a base in Kandahar’s Zhari district. NATO said a man in an Afghan army uniform and another Afghan civilian opened fire on coalition and Afghan soldiers, which killed two foreign troops. However, U.S. and Afghan officials gave conflicting accounts about the sequence of events that took place.
The initial string of deaths related to the buring of Qurans occurred Feb. 23 during a protest when an Afghan solider killed two U.S. troops in Eastern Afghanistan. Two days later on Feb. 25 two more Americans were shot and killed by an Afghan gunman in their office at the Interior Ministry. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the ministry shootings as a direct response to the burning of the Qurans.
The latest American deaths spurred the removal of hundreds of American advisers out of ministries and other government locations. More than thirty Afghans were also killed in addition to the six Americans from the riots that have broken out since the initial burning of the Quran.
President Obama and other U.S. officials apologized right after the incident occurred stating that the burning was an accident, but Obama’s apology has failed to quell the outrage of Afghans over the event. On Wednesday, Obama said that while his apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai had “calmed things down,” he also said to ABC News that, "we're not out of the woods yet."
The head of the U.N. in Afghanistan said Thursday that the military personal responsible for the disposed Qurans should be punished and held accountable. Jan Kubic, who runs the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, agreed that military personnel need to be responsible for fixing the problem.
“It’s not us, the U.N., who desecrated the Holy Quran, it is the military and it’s up to the military to decided what kind of steps they will take,” Kubic stated. He concluded that the profound apology was not enough to end the quell and stated there needs to be a second step which he thinks should be, “appropriate disciplinary action.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.