US forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday apologized for dropping a leaflet in northern areas of the country Tuesday depicting a dog with a Quranic verse across its body — a highly offensive image to Muslims.
The leaflet was a call to Afghans to help security forces fight terrorist groups operating in that part of the country, report CNN.
“On September 5, US forces conducted a leaflet drop in Parwan Province. The design of the leaflets mistakenly contained an image highly offensive to both Muslims and the religion of Islam,” Maj. Gen. James Linder, who heads US and NATO special forces in Afghanistan, said in a written statement. “I sincerely apologize. We have the deepest respect for Islam and our Muslim partners worldwide.”
“There is no excuse for this mistake,” Linder also said in the statement. “I am reviewing our procedures to determine the cause of this incident and to hold the responsible party accountable. Furthermore, I will make appropriate changes so this never happens again.”
Past perceived offenses against Islam have provoked deadly violence.
In 2012, the Americans apologized after copies of the Quran burned at Bagram Air Base near Kabul by mistake. The incident sparked large demonstrations in Kabul and other provinces in which several people were killed.
Following the latest incident, a US citizen was wounded Wednesday following an apparent suicide attack at an entrance gate to Bagram Air Base in northern Afghanistan, US military officials told CNN.
According to the officials, the attacker was riding a motorcycle and did not make it past any checkpoints.
Bagram District Governor Abdul Shukoor Qudosi told CNN the attacker detonated his explosives at the main entrance of the base, targeting truck suppliers.
It was not clear if the wounded US citizen was a military servicemember or a contractor.
“The explosion resulted in a small number of casualties. The casualties are being treated at Bagram medical facilities,” US Forces Afghanistan said in a statement. The statement also said: “Bagram Airfield is secure and the incident is being investigated.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the group claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message to media, saying it was carried out as revenge for leaflets distributed by the US-led NATO forces in the area on Tuesday.
The attack comes just weeks after President Donald Trump announced that the US would expand its presence and remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future to prevent terrorists from taking advantage of a security vacuum in the country.
US military bases and facility throughout the world are also on high alert with the upcoming anniversary of the September 11 attacks.