Kabul A series of mistakes led to the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and at least five American military personnel involved may face a disciplinary review over the issue, a Western official said Saturday.
The official said a joint investigation by senior Afghan and U.S. military officials had convinced them that there was no intent to desecrate the Qurans and other religious texts.
The Feb. 20 incident touched off a weeklong series of deadly riots that killed more than 30 Afghans, as well as six U.S. officers who were fatally shot by Afghan security forces or militants disguised in their uniforms. It also brought relations between the U.S.-led military coalition and the Afghan government to an all-time low and spurred the most serious wave of anti-American and foreign sentiment across the country during the 10-year war.
President Barack Obama and other U.S. officials apologized and said the burning was an accident. But the apologies failed to quell the anger, although Muslim protests over the burnings have now ebbed.
The Western official, who has knowledge of the investigation, said it could lead to a disciplinary review of five U.S. military personnel involved. The official did not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Full details of the incident are expected to be included in a joint Afghan-U.S. probe that is still under legal review by the military. Its release date is unclear. A more formal U.S. military investigation is still weeks away from completion.
If any action is taken against American troops involved, it would come under the U.S. military justice system, officials with the international coalition have said.
Afghanistan’s top religious leaders demanded Friday that those involved be put on public trial and be punished. In a statement issued after they presented the conclusion of their own investigation to President Hamid Karzai, the clerics strongly condemned the incident and blamed it on poor administration of the detention facility where the burnings happened.