Afghan woman dies in US-led operation
US-led force kills woman in anti-militant operation; Afghans protest alleged Quran burning
June 13, 2008
U.S.-led coalition forces killed several militants and a female civilian in an operation targeting two insurgent leaders in eastern Afghanistan, a military statement said Friday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Afghans protested the alleged burning of a Quran at a remote U.S. military base. The coalition denied the allegation.
The U.S. and NATO-led forces have lost public goodwill by periodically causing civilian deaths in operations against insurgents since the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime in 2001. They say they take all reasonable steps to avoid it.
The fighting happened in Zurmat district of Paktia province on Thursday. The coalition statement said it launched airstrikes after its forces came under fire as they searched compounds for two militant leaders believed behind attacks by foreign fighters on Afghan and coalition forces.
Several militants and a woman who was located in the same building the militants were firing from were killed, it said. One militant detonated a suicide-vest, killing himself.
Meanwhile, a suicide car bomber attacked a coalition convoy Friday in eastern Nangarhar province, but only the bomber died, said spokesman Lt. Nathan Perry.
Also Friday, more than 2,000 Afghans staged a peaceful protest claiming U.S. troops at a remote base in eastern Kunar province had burned a copy of Islam’s holy book, officials said.
Perry, the coalition spokesman, confirmed the protest but denied the allegation. “We respect the Afghan culture and religion,” he said.
Local lawmaker Gulhar Jalal said Afghans working inside the base at Mano Gai had spread news about the alleged burning of a Quran. She said the incident that enraged locals was alleged to have happened Thursday but had no further details.
Provincial police chief Abdul Jalal Jalal said police were sent to the area after the protest broke out in the town near the base but demonstrators dispersed peacefully.
Afghanistan is a Muslim nation where blasphemy of Muhammad and the Quran is considered a serious crime that carries the death sentence. Such reports have sparked unrest before.
In May, a protest in Afghanistan’s western Ghor province against an American sniper who shot at a copy of the Quran in Iraq turned violent, leaving one NATO soldier and two civilians dead.