Two US troops were killed by an Afghan army solider outside a coalition military base in Nangarhar province Feb. 23 as protests escalated over the burning of Korans that had been issued to detainees at Bagram Air Base. Protests have spread across half a dozen provinces following the revelations, with demonstrators arming themselves with rocks, bricks, sticks and pistols. The Taliban issued a statement signed by the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on their website, Voice of Jihad, calling for an uprising against the “American invaders.” The unrest comes as the US Department of Defense announced the next round of unit deployments to Afghanistan. Five brigades and one army command will deploy to Afghanistan between April and August 2012. These units will not be assigned to regular combat operations, but to train and support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The deployment will constitute an unprecedentedly large training mission. (VOA, Feb. 23; NYT, Feb. 22; Long War Journal, Feb. 19)
President Obama apologized for the Koran burnings, and was promptly lambasted by Newt Gingrich, who told a crowd in Spokane: “President Obama surrendered twice today and I think that deserves to be brought to the country’s attention. The president apologized for the burning, but I haven’t seen the president demand that the government of Afghanistan apologize for the killing of two young Americans.” (CNN, Feb. 23)
Violence has not abated across the border in Pakistan. A car bomb ripped through a bus station on on the outskirts of Peshawar Feb. 23, killing 12 people, including two children. The attack happened on the road towards the garrison city of Kohat near the border of the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). (Dawn, Pakistan, Feb. 23) Four police were killed when suicide bombers blew themselves up in an attack on a police station in Peshawar the following day. (Dawn, Feb. 24)
See our last post on Afghanistan.