Wednesday, May 21, 2008


BAGHDAD - US President George W. Bush has apologised to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki over the shooting of a Quran by an American soldier near Baghdad, state television announced on Tuesday. The U.S. President apologised in a telephone call on Monday.

The unidentified soldier, has been disciplined and sent home after a bullet-riddled copy of the Muslim holy book was found at a shooting range near Baghdad on May 11. Tribal leaders also accused the soldier of writing offensive language inside the book.

The American military described the incident as 'both serious and deeply troubling', but stressed it was an 'isolated incident and a result of one soldier's actions'.

On Saturday, the top US commander for Baghdad, Major General Jeffrey Hammond met with local leaders, issuing an apology and promising strict disciplinary action against the offender.

The incident has been deeply embarrassing for the U.S. military, which has been working hard to improve its image among Iraqis and forge alliances with tribal leaders to fight Sunni Islamist al Qaeda militants.

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