Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Kabul to protest the burning of the Koran. At least five people were killed in demonstrations Wednesday, CNN reports.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was on lockdown after Afghans shouted anti-American slogans during the protests.
Jan Kubis, the U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan, expressed regret for the "improper handling" of the Koran. A readout from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan stated the incident was a "sad mistake" that in no way reflects the United Nations' respect for the Islamic faith.
Kubis added that authorities with the U.N.-backed International Security Assistance Force launch an investigation into the incident. UNAMA said troops "inadvertently" disposed of Islamic materials at Bagram, including copies of the Koran.
White House spokesman Jay Carney described the incident as "deeply unfortunate."
The alleged desecration comes as the possibility of peace talks between Afghan government officials and members of the Taliban moves forward. Western officials had said they welcomed the initiative so long as the Taliban denounced violence, though the conservative Islamist group said it wouldn't talk while foreign forces were on the ground in Afghanistan.