KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 21, 2012 – All International Security Assistance Force personnel will complete training in the proper handling of religious materials in the next two weeks, military officials here reported.
Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander, today ordered that all coalition forces in Afghanistan complete the training by March 3.
Allen issued the order in response to an incident last night in which religious materials, including Qurans identified for disposal, were inadvertently taken to an incineration facility at Bagram Airfield, officials said. The incident is under investigation.
“On behalf of the entire International Security Assistance Force, I extend my sincerest apologies to the people of Afghanistan,” Allen said. “To assist us in ensuring we have uncovered all the facts, I’ve also asked our partners from the Afghan Ministry of Interior to assist us with this investigation.”
The training will include the identification of religious materials, their significance, and correct handling and storage.
“Along with our apology to the Afghans, is our certainty and assurance to them that these kinds of incidents, when they do occur, will be corrected in the fastest and most appropriate manner possible,” Allen continued. “We’ve been shoulder to shoulder with the Afghans for a long time. We’ve been dying alongside the Afghans for a long time because we believe in them, we believe in their country, and we want to have every opportunity to give them a bright future.”