NATO in Afghanistan is trying to contain violent protests at military bases near Kabul, after reports of personnel burning a load of Korans and other Islamic religious material.
General John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, issued a candid apology and indicated an investigation was already underway at Bagram Air Base, where the incident reportedly occurred.
"I offer my sincere apologies for any offence this may have caused, to the president of Afghanistan, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and most importantly, to the noble people of Afghanistan," he said.
Protesters have fired slingshots and firebombs at the base; guards have responded with rubber bullets.
Last year, similar violent protests left 12 dead and more injured in Afghanistan, after American pastor Terry Jones publicly burned the Koran in Florida.