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Quran burning an unforgiveable mistake: Gen. Kneip

Quran burning an unforgiveable mistake: Gen. Kneip

Feb 26, 2012 - 21:55

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander in the north, Brig. Gen.  Markus Kneip, on Sunday denounced the burning of the Quran by US troops as an unforgiveable mistake.

The blasphemous act at the hands of US troops at the Bagram airfield has sparked deadly protests that entered a sixth consecutive day on Sunday, leaving scores of people dead and hundreds wounded.

Gen.  Kneip, who handed over charge to the new ISAF commander for the region, Brig. Gen. Erich Pfeffer, during a change-of-command ceremony in Mazar-i-Sharif, once again appologised for the Quran burning incident.

“It is an unforgiveable mistake. I condemn it and apologise to Afghans,” Kneip told participants of the ceremony, attended by foreign and Afghan security officials.

He said their aim was to help the Afghans and acts like the desecration of the holy book could damage their mission. The outgoing commander promised efforts at preventing such incidents in the future and vowed to stay in close relationship with Afghan counterparts.

He said the non-participation of Afghan officials in the ceremony was due to the aftermath of the incident, saying he did not want them to leave their offices under the current circumstances.

The German commander rejected media reports that troops from his country had abandoned northern Takhar province, saying it was a temporary move. He said the 50-member PRT left Taloqan after construction work on a new building for its office was launched.

He said the pullout had been coordinated with the governor and the Transition Commission head, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmazai. He said the troops would return to the city after the building was completed.

Incoming commander, Brig. Gen. Erich Pfeiffer, said their combat mission would change to a supportive role next year. He vowed to preserve the gains achieved by foreign and Afghan troops over the past years and strengthen Afghan forces.