Kabul angry but calm after Marine abuse video

Last Updated: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 21:21

Kabul: Feared anti-US protests over a video
showing Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghan insurgents
failed to erupt after Friday prayers in the Afghan capital,
but anger ran deep on the streets.

"This is an absolutely savage act and condemnable in any
religion," said Waheedullah, 20, a road construction worker as
he left a mosque in Kabul.

"First they kill Afghans in their homeland and then they
urinate on them. It is not acceptable -- we should do it to
them."

The online video showed four US soldiers urinating on
three bloodied corpses, and one of the men, apparently aware
he was being filmed, saying: "Have a great day, buddy,"
referring to one of the dead.

The images conjured up previous abuses committed by US
troops during the decade-long war and top US officials
scrambled to condemn the soldiers.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the behavior in
the video was "utterly deplorable", Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton spoke of her "total dismay", and both vowed that the
culprits would be found and punished.

In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said the
government was "deeply disturbed" at the desecration, which he
described as "simply inhuman and condemnable in the strongest
possible terms".

But the mullah at Kabul`s biggest mosque did not mention
the incident in his sermon Friday, and worshippers dispersed
peacefully. Protests have in the past been sparked by
inflammatory sermons.

"I believe there has been kind of a deliberate effort by
people inside the government to cover up the issue," Mati
Kharoti, Afghan analyst and commentator, said.

"But this doesn`t mean that nothing will happen. It
takes time for people to become aware of the news, thus I
believe there is a good possibility we will witness angry
reactions in the coming days."

The quiet reaction so far on the streets reflects a
surprisingly measured response by the hardline Taliban
Islamists, whose fighters are believed to be the victims in
the video.

A Taliban spokesman condemned the behaviour of the
soldiers as "barbaric", but said it would not derail tentative
moves towards peace talks between the insurgents and the
United States.

"Normally such an issue would be used to bash foreigners,
but their reaction could be an indicator that they might be
serious about talks," said Kate Clark of the Afghanistan
Analysts Network.

The Afghan government also appeared to be choosing not
use the issue to inflame anger against its US allies, she
said, pointing out that most demonstrations in Kabul tended to
be organised, not spontaneous.

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 - 21:21

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