Two U.S. troops were killed and four soldiers wounded on Thursday by an ally Afghan soldier who opened fire in response to the discovery that Qurans were burnt at the U.S. Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. The shooting, which signifies the escalation of violent anti-U.S. protests throughout Afghanistan, comes on the third day of riots that have crowds throwing stones, setting fire to the U.S. flag, and shouting “Down with America” and “Death to Obama.”
The riots’ violent nature, which has already resulted in the death of at least ten protesters, is expected to heighten Friday when clerics dedicate their sermons’ rhetoric to fueling anti-Western sentiments. In anticipation, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, which is currently on lock-down, advised Americans in an emergency message to “shelter in place and avoid any unnecessary movement.”
Afghan demonstrators run and shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest in Kabul.
The controversial burning is suspected to have been ordered based on the belief that extremist messages were being passed between prisoners within the religious books. Further investigation found that four copies of the Quran were burned and ten to fifteen damaged. Members of Afghanistan’s parliament have responded by calling for citizens to wage jihad against Westerners and declaring, “Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation.” Similarly, the Taliban is imploring NATO-armed and trained Afghan security forces to “turn their guns on the foreign infidel invaders,” target foreign military bases, and take arms against Westerners.
While President Obama’s letter of apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed “regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled,” it is clear that words will not be enough to overcome Afghanistan’s opportunistic Islamic extremists who are exploiting this incident to further their anti-Western agenda.