ISAF promises to get to the bottom of Quran row

Washington: US-led international forces in Afghanistan today vowed to get to the bottom of the row over the reported burning of copies of Quran at the Bagram airbase, and said those found responsible for the desecration would be held accountable, even as protests flared nationwide.

Terming the incident as a "mistake" and an "error", ISAF spokesman Brig Gen Cartsen Jacobson told Pentagon reporters via a video news conference from Kabul that the decision to burn the material had nothing to do with it being religious in nature or related to Islam.

"ISAF has complete respect for Islam and the reverence in which the Quran is held. We are very serious about making certain that if someone failed to follow our rules, they will be held accountable.

"This incident was completely unintentional. Material was inadvertently given to troops for burning," he said.

He said an Afghan delegation had joined the investigation into the episode at Bagram, and they would look into questions like why was the particular material selected to be destroyed.

"We are deeply concerned about the possibility that Qurans or religious materials were damaged in this incident, and we will get to the bottom of what actually happened," he noted.

ISAF Commander General Allen, he said, has issued a new directive that all coalition forces in Afghanistan will complete training in the proper handling of religious material no later than March 3.

"The training will include the identification of religious materials, their significance, correct handling and storage," he said.