Kabul, Sept.18 (ANI): Relations between Australian troops and villagers in Mirwais in the Chora Valley of Afghanistan Uruzgan Province have soured after a violent protest that was sparked off by a rumour that diggers were burning copies of the Koran.
The soldiers were conducting a regular burn off of rubbish and documents in a pit outside the secure blast walls of forward operating base north of the main base at Tarin Kowt on Thursday when all hell broke loose, ABC News reports.
An angry mob was on the rampage and raining rocks down on the diggers as they retreated back into the base.
Somehow word got around the village that troops were burning copies of the Islamic holy book the Koran.
"They were doing a burn in the pit and the suggestion spread that they were burning the Koran," a source told the Herald Sun.
According to intelligence reports the protest was sparked by the high-profile plan by American pastor Terry Jones to burn copies of the Koran outside his church on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Jones, from Gainesville, Florida, backed away but was unrepentant yesterday saying he had no "conviction from God to repent".
The Chora Valley has been a hotbed of insurgent activity and during a visit in April last year then Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was ordered by his security detail to don body armour at Buman forward base just down the valley from Mirwais, after a local fighter threatened to shoot the minister.
It is believed that experts regarded the threat as real and he was whisked out of the base on a Chinook helicopter.
Mirwais is also known as Fort Locke and was named after dead SAS Sergeant Matthew Locke and is 500m from the village of Chora. It is the biggest Australian base outside Camp Russell at Tarin Kowt. (ANI)