Top of the Morning: Alleged Koran Burning Sets off Protests in Afghanistan; New Warnings on South Sudan Food Crisis; Boko Haram Strikes Again

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Alleged Koran Burning Sets off Big Protests in Afghanistan

NATO is in crisis management mode after word is out that a truckload of Korans may have been set on fire at Baghram air base. “Attempting to contain a violent reaction already gathering steam, the NATO commander in Afghanistan issued a fervent apology on Tuesday for foreign troops having ‘improperly disposed’ of Korans and Islamic materials…It is not clear how close the NATO personnel came to destroying the Korans, but one worker, Abdul Wahid, 25, said that ‘American soldiers brought a pickup truck loaded with new copies of the Koran in its trunk and dropped it in burning pitch and set fire and started burning the Koran.’ Mr. Wahid said that he and two friends tried to stop the soldiers. ‘We said, ‘We will give it to our mullahs,’ ” he said. Western officials said they did not believe that any Korans were actually set on fire, but that an investigation was under way and they would have information later Tuesday. The crowd at Bagram, estimated at more than 2,000, shouted ‘Death to America’ and ‘We don’t want them anymore,’ according to witnesses who were reached by telephone. Witnesses said gunfire could be heard and security forces were firing rubber bullets. (NYT

South Sudan’s Food Crisis is About to Get Much Worse

The WFP and the FAO are warning that as many as 9 million people in South Sudan could be facing hunger in the next two months. This is a story to watch closely in the coming weeks. “An already dire food situation in South Sudan could deteriorate amid growing economic problems, food shortages and a mass influx of people fleeing Sudan in the next two months, agencies warn. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said that in South Sudan’s first year of statehood, half the population of about nine million people could face hunger. Their Crop and Food Security Assessment report shows that for 2012, 4.7 million people will be food-insecure, up 1.4 million from last year, and the number of severely food-insecure will hit almost one million from 900,000 in 2011…’This is a rapidly approaching crisis that the world cannot afford to ignore,’ said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s country director in South Sudan. South Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Joseph Lual Achuil, urged people to try to salvage what they could from the planting season before the rains come or 1.7 million people would be ‘severely affected by starvation.’ ‘If we don’t do our best in order to rescue the situation now, 4.7 million will be without food, and if they are without food before the rain, after the rain what is going to happen? We are going to have a disaster,’ he said.” (IRIN

Another Massacre by Boko Haram

Nigeria’s terrible militant sect strikes again. “Suspected Nigerian Islamists opened fire and set off bombs at a market in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Monday, killing at least 30 people, a medic and a witness said. Gunmen believed to be members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram stormed the fish section of Baga market and sprayed stallholders and vendors with bullets, traders said, reporting that women and children were among the dead. ‘The number of dead could not be less than 30,’ a Maiduguri hospital nurse told AFP. The military confirmed the assault on the market but denied any civilian deaths, saying security forces had killed eight assailants and safely detonated bombs planted by the attackers.” (AFP