Afghan Koran backlash threatens U.S. mission

Updated at 1:59 p.m. ET

Nine people were killed Monday when a car bomb exploded outside an airport in Eastern Afghanistan - the latest apparent reprisal attack in a week of violence that erupted after it came to light that American soldiers had mistakenly burned copies of the Koran at a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

The suicide car bomber detonated outside the gates of Jalalabad airport, which doubles as a U.S. military base. The attack was timed to take place as American forces changed from night to morning guard duty.

More than two dozen people, including four U.S. troops, were injured in the blast. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying it was retaliation for the Koran burning.

Bomber hits Afghan airport amid Koran backlash
Afghans hunt for killers of U.S. officers
U.S. soldier killed noted Koran backlash

The fury over what the U.S. military has said was an improper handling of garbage at the Bagram air base sparked days of protests and targeted attacks on Americans. On Sunday, demonstrators threw a hand grenade into a U.S. base in Northern Afghanistan, injuring seven American Special Forces on a training mission.

On Saturday, an Afghan policeman murdered two American officers in the Interior Ministry in Kabul.

Colonel John Loftis, a father of two, was a decorated airman and worked as the chief plans advisor for the ministry. He died alongside a Army Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II, who the Pentagon identified Monday.

The hunt for the suspected gunman in that attack, 25-year-old Abdul Saboor, is ongoing. His home has been raided and family members detained.

Now all foreign advisors have been pulled off their posts and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is appealling for calm.

"We deeply regret the incident that has led to these protests. We are condemning it in the strongest possible terms," said Clinton, "but we also believe that the violence must stop and the hard work of trying to build a more peaceful, prosperous, secure Afghanistan must continue."

As the violence continues, it hangs like a cloud over the American mission in Afghanistan. A key part of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is training-up Afghan security forces and government ministries so the country can stand on their own.

But if the Americans can't trust the very people they are training, it may put the whole mission in jeopardy.

The Pentagon said Monday, however, that it has no plans to shift its military strategy in Afghanistan, taking what spokesman George Little said is "the long view" toward achieving security stability.

Still, officials said its advisers would not yet return to the Afghan interior ministry.

Watch Mandy Clark's full report in the video player above.

  • Mandy Clark

Comments

Follow Us

The Newsroom