Ian McPhedran From:
The Daily Telegraph
September 18, 2010 12:00AM
AN AFGHAN man is dead and relations between Australian troops and local villagers are on a knife edge following a violent protest sparked by a rumour that Diggers were burning copies of the Koran.
The soldiers were conducting a regular burnoff of rubbish and documents in a pit outside the secure blast walls of forward operating base (FOB) Mirwais in the Chora valley, north of the main base at Tarin Kowt, on Thursday when all hell broke loose.
Suddenly an angry mob of 100 local men was on the rampage and raining rocks down on the soldiers as they retreated back into the base.
Somehow word got around the village that troops were burning copies of the Koran.
"They were doing a burn in the pit and the suggestion spread that they were burning the Koran," a source said.
The dispute, just two days before local parliamentary elections, escalated from rock throwing when a man brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle allegedly aimed the weapon at troops in a guard tower.
An Afghan soldier attached to the Australian force deployed at the base used maximum force and shot the protester, following the army's rules of engagement.
The gunman was taken away before troops could check his condition, but according to sources he died from his wounds. No soldiers were injured in the melee.
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 Florida church on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He backed away but was unrepentant yesterday.
The Department of Defence was yesterday unable to comment on the protest.
* NEW footage has been released of the battle between Australian and Taliban soldiers that ended with the death of Lance Corporal Jared Mackinney.
The five-minute video shows Diggers and Afghan soldiers pushing through canals and lightly wooded areas as they respond to an attack from the Islamist militants.
The August 24 video was shot by one of Lance Corporal Mackinney's colleagues through a camera strapped to his helmet.
Australia’s Finest laid to rest, Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney’s wife gives birth hours after Funeral of her Husband