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Nato recalls Afghan ministry staff

The commander of Nato and US forces says that all Nato personnel are being recalled from Afghan ministries following an attack at the Interior Ministry in Kabul.

General John Allen said staff are being recalled "for obvious force protection reasons." He says Nato is investigating the latest shooting and will pursue all leads to find the person responsible for the attack.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for the burning of the Muslim holy book the Koran at a US air base.

Protests against the burnings raged across the country for a fifth day.

An apology from President Barack Obama has failed to quell public outrage over what Nato insisted was an accidental desecration of the Koran. At least 28 people have been killed and hundreds wounded since Tuesday, when it first emerged that Korans and other religious materials had been thrown into a fire pit used to burn rubbish at Bagram Air Field, a large US base north of Kabul.

Among those dead were two US soldiers who were killed Thursday by one of their Afghan counterparts while a riot raged outside their base in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

General Allen, the commander of Nato and US forces in Afghanistan, said he recalled all Nato personnel from the ministries "for obvious force protection reasons" but the alliance remains committed to its partnership with the Afghan government.

Nato forces have advisers embedded in many Afghan ministries, both as trainers and to help manage the transition to Afghan control and foreign forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. The Afghan Interior Ministry oversees all of the country's police, so has numerous Nato advisers.

Two Afghan officials said the ministry shooting did not involve any Afghans. One of the officials noted that the shooting occurred inside a secure room at the ministry that Afghan staff do not have access to. Nato confirmed that two service members were killed, but spokesman Lt. Col Jimmie Cummings said "initial reports say it was not a Western shooter".

In a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the gunman was an insurgent named Abdul Rahman. He said an accomplice inside the ministry helped him get inside the compound. He said the killings were a planned response to the Koran burnings.


From Belfast Telegraph