Afghan laborers at a U.S.-run base discovered copies of the Koran allegedly being burned before dawn Tuesday, spurring a protest involving as many as 1,000 people -- and an unusually contrite statement from the base's commanding general.
As The Times' Laura King reported early Tuesday morning, the Bagram district police chief said the workers brought the Muslim holy books outside the base and showed them to nearby Afghans, and "this provoked the local people's emotions."
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, in his statement addressed the "noble people of Afghanistan."
When officials learned that "a large number of Islamic religious materials" had been improperly disposed of, "we immediately intervened and stopped" the actions, he said.
Allen said recovered materials would be turned over to religious authorities. He also vowed that the incident would be fully investigated.
The Times' earlier report noted that four people were injured when guards fired on the crowd, according to Afghan officials in Parwan, where the Bagram base is located. A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force declined to say whether Western troops were involved in any crowd-control actions during the demonstration.
-- Amy Hubbard in Los Angeles
Photo: Afghan demonstrators hold copies of half-burned Korans, allegedly set on fire by U.S. soldiers, during protests Tuesday at the gate of Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. Credit: Massoud Hossaini / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images