Washington: The US will hand over administrative punishment to its six soldiers for their role in desecration of Holy Quran in Afghanistan early this year. An incident that had caused wide-spread protests and riots in the country and forced President Barack Obama to apologise.
    
The report of the investigation, conducted by a senior army official and released by the US Central Command on Monday, found some 100 Qurans and religious texts were burnt by US soldiers who found the holy literature being used by detainees for violent extremism.
    
The report by Army Brigadier General Bryan G Watson found that US servicemen mishandled the Muslim holy book and other religious materials, to include their disposal at an incinerator.
    
Noting that the "tragic incident" took place due to poor communication between "leaders and commands" and "lack of involvement of any senior leader", the probe, however, "rejected" any suggestion that those involved acted with malicious intent to disrespect the Quran of defame the faith of Islam, the report said.
    
It also blamed junior and mid-grade leaders of "choosing the easy way" instead of the "right way" to address a problem and found distrust among service members and their ignorance with respect to the importance and handling of Quran as well as other religious material as other key reasons behind the incident.
    
The report also noted that the US service members did not listen to the advice of soldiers from the Afghan National Army.

"Finally, Afghan security forces are increasing in number and quality every day. The area controlled by allied and Afghan forces reaches into Taliban support zones that had long been inaccessible," he said.
    
Holding that Islam never permits acts like "murdering innocent civilians" and the "scourge of drugs and abject criminality", the official said with every act of violence and atrocity on innocent Afghans, the insurgents were only distancing themselves further from Afghan people.
    
Meanwhile, the US has warned its citizens of travelling to Pakistan in the wake of possible terror threats in the country.
    
Urging American nationals to avoid protests and large gathering, the State Department, in a travel advisory, said that the presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, and indigenous militant sectarian groups poses a potential danger to US citizens throughout Pakistan.
    
"Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where US citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, and outdoor recreation events," it said.
    
Travel to much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan was also restricted as per the new advisory that replaces the one issued earlier on February 2.
    
It also "strongly urged" the US citizens to avoid hotels that do not apply "stringent security measures" and asked them to maintain good situational awareness, particularly when visiting locations "frequented by Westerners."
    
"Since the announcement that Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011, US citizens should be aware of the possible increase in the threat level throughout the country. This might include an increased threat against Westerners," the advisory said.
    
Due to security concerns, the US government currently allows only essential travel within the FATA by US officials.

(Agencies)

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