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Latest on Afghanistan and the Murders of 2 American Officers

By: AP
By: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is condemning what he calls the murder of two American military officers in Afghanistan's capital.

Pentagon press secretary George Little says in a written statement that Panetta believes Saturday's killings in Kabul are unacceptable.

The nationality of the gunman hasn't been confirmed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack inside a heavily guarded government building, saying it was retaliation for the burning of Qurans on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.

Little says Panetta received a telephone call from his Afghan
counterpart, who offered his condolences and apologized for the
incident.

Little says Panetta urged the Afghan government to take "decisive action" to protect coalition forces and to curtail violence after a week of unrest sparked by outrage over the burning of the Muslim holy books.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- For the first time in the decade-long
war in Afghanistan, the top commander of the U.S. and NATO forces
has recalled all international ministers from Afghan ministries.

This is in reaction to the killing of two American military advisers Saturday inside a heavily guarded ministry building.

Violence has sprung up in the wake of protests in Afghanistan over the burning of copies of the Quran at a U.S. army base.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Interior Ministry, saying it was retaliation for the Quran burnings.

The two U.S. officers were a lieutenant colonel and major, and Afghan and Western officials say they were found dead on their office floor.

Western officials speaking on grounds of anonymity say the two
American officers were shot in the back of the head.

A Taliban spokesman has identified the shooter as one of their
sympathizers. He says an accomplice inside the ministry helped him
get inside the compound.

The Pentagon says the Afghan defense minister has called U.S.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to apologize for the shooting and
offer his condolences.

DOVER, Del. (AP) -- A U.S. soldier killed during protests in
Afghanistan had talked with relatives about the backlash over the
burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base before he died.

Twenty-two-year-old Cpl. T.J. Conrad of Roanoke, Va. -- promoted
posthumously to sergeant -- was one of two U.S. troops killed
Thursday by an Afghan soldier amid anti-American sentiment over the
Quran burnings.

Conrad's oldest sister told The Associated Press he was in good
spirits when she and other relatives chatted with him over the Internet on Wednesday, but he noted the backlash over the Quran burnings, which resulted in two more American deaths on Saturday.

The Department of Defense said the bodies of Conrad and Sgt.
Joshua Born of Niceville, Fla., were returned to Dover Air Force Base on Saturday.


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