WASHINGTON - The International Assistance Security Force (ISAF) has vowed to bring to book the troops responsible for the desecration of the Koran.
"ISAF has complete respect for Islam and the reverence in which the Koran is held. We are very serious about making certain if someone failed to follow our rules, they will be held accountable," a spokesman for the force said.
Brig Gen. Carsten Jacobson told Pentagon correspondents via a video news conference from Kabul on Wednesday: "This incident was completely unintentional. Material was inadvertently given to troops for burning.
"The decision to burn this material had nothing to do with it being religious in nature or related to Islam. It was a mistake. It was an error," he said.
ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen, he said, had issued a new directive that all coalition forces in Afghanistan would complete training in the proper handling of religious material no later than the 3rd of March.
Jacobson said ISAF had no evidence that Koran's copies were used by prisoners to pass on extremist messages among themselves. "We haven't got any proof of that yet, and that is a vital part of the investigation that is ongoing.
"We want to make sure that this is as open as possible. That's why the material was handed to Islamic authorities straightaway after the incident occurred, and why an Afghan delegation was taking part in the investigation," he said.