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U.S. identifies 5 in Koran burning

  |   March 2, 2012 at 7:59 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, March 2 (UPI) -- Officials say five members of the U.S. military face punishment, but not "a public trial," for having had a hand in burning copies of the Koran in Afghanistan.

Citing U.S. military officials who have been briefed on an investigation into the incident -- which touched off a week of violent protests throughout Afghanistan -- The Washington Post reported Friday investigators have determined the five U.S. service members had acted carelessly, "but there was no ill will," when they incinerated several copies of the Koran that had been confiscated from prisoners at Bagram Air Base because the books contained handwritten extremist messages.

The investigation, ordered by Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, concluded the Korans had been kept in an office and were burned after someone mistook them for trash and sent them to a landfill, the Post reported. Afghan workers identified the books just at the moment the pages had begun to burn, the report said.

A U.S. military official told the newspaper the five U.S. service members will probably be reprimanded and could lose rank.

"But you're not going to see the kind of public trial that some here seem to want," the official said.

A delegation of top Islamic clerics issued a statement after a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai saying the "perpetrators of the mentioned crime should be put on a public trial as soon as possible."

At least 30 Afghans were killed in protests over the Koran burning, and officials have speculated some of the six killings of U.S. military personnel during the past week were motivated by outrage over the incident, the Post said.

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