Throngs of protesters rushed to the US base in Bagram, Afghanistan, this morning, following a report that troops there had allegedly burned a number of Korans. Police estimate that more than 3,000 took part in the demonstration, hurling rocks through windows and chanting, "long live Islam" and "death to America." They also blocked the road to Bagram, preventing commuters from Kabul from reaching the base, the Washington Post reports.
It was Afghan workers inside the base who spread the word about the holy books. Several even managed to smuggle out half-burnt copies, which protesters displayed during the demonstration. An Afghan official told the AP that two soldiers transported trash that somehow contained the books to a burn pit last night. Once they realized the books were in the pile, they rushed to recover them, burning their fingers; he added that as many as 70 books, including Korans, were recovered from the pit. The top US military officer in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, has issued a public apology, saying the books were improperly disposed of unintentionally. "Materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities," he promised, and ordered an investigation.