Sunday 26 February 2012,
(BNA) KABUL: Two American officers were shot dead at close range in Afghanistan's Interior Ministry on Saturday, a U.S. official said, as rage gripped the country for a fifth day over the burning of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base.
NATO recalled all staff working at ministries in the Afghan capital Kabul following the attack, with its top commander in Afghanistan calling the killer a coward.
"For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other ISAF personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul," said General John Allen, adding that the attacker's actions "will not go unanswered."
The two American officers, advisers to the ministry, were fired on at close range, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Koran burnings ignited anti-Western fury. Thousands have taken to the streets and at least 27 people have been killed in the protests. Two American soldiers were shot dead on Thursday by an Afghan national army soldier who joined the rallies.
Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, in a phone call with Panetta, apologized and said Karzai was assembling religious leaders, parliamentarians, justices of the Supreme Court, and others in an effort to curb violence, according to a Pentagon description of the conversation.
In Kabul, Allen met with Afghan Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, who pledged his complete cooperation with the investigation, the Pentagon said.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed two of its servicemen had been killed in Kabul but declined to say if the shooter was a member of the Afghan security forces.
Hundreds of people tried to overrun a compound in the northern Kunduz province housing workers from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, but were held back by police, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.