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Suspect in Kabul shooting of US officers identified

Police are hunting for an Afghan intelligence official suspected of shooting dead two US officers at the interior ministry in Kabul.

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Afghan riot police stand guard during a protest against Quran desecration in Kabul on February 24, 2012. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Police are hunting for an Afghan intelligence official suspected of shooting dead two US officers at the interior ministry in Kabul.

The two Americans, who were working as officers in the NATO coalition, were killed on Feb. 25 during violent anti-US protests over the burning of Quran at a US-run military base. According to reports from the BBC, around 4,000 took to the streets to protest in Aybal, in the northern province of Samangan.

(GlobalPost reports: Two western advisers killed in Kabul shooting)

NATO's commander, Gen. John Allen, said that all International Security Assistance Force personnel will be withdrawn from Afghan ministries after the shooting.

France announced on Sunday that it will be withdrawing all civilian mentors and advisors from Afghanistan, and Germany followed suit with withdrawals of its national and international staff from Afghan government institutions, according to the BBC.

US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said the US should resist the urge to pull troops out of Afghanistan ahead of schedule, according to Reuters. Speaking on an interview from Kabul, Crocker said, "This is not the time to decide that we are done here. We have got to redouble our efforts. We've got to create a situation that al Qaeda is not coming back." He added, "If we decide we're tired of it, al Qaeda and the Taliban certainly aren't."

(More from GlobalPost: NATO pulls out of Afghan ministries after Americans shot dead in Kabul)

Unidentified Afghan officials told Agence France-Presse on Sunday that the main suspect, a police officer who worked for the ministry’s intelligence department, had disappeared following the attack.

The BBC quoted counter-terrorism officials as identifying the suspect as 25-year-old Abdul Saboor.

CNN reported the same, quoting a source in the Afghan Ministry of the Interior.

"We believe [the attack] was 100 percent linked to the Quran burning because of the religious background of this junior officer. He spent two months in a Pakistani madrassa," CNN quoted the official as saying.

His family home in north-east Parwan province was raided overnight and his relatives in Kabul detained, the BBC reported.

The Quran burnings have sparked a wave of protests in Afghanistan that according to President Hamid Karzai has killed 29 people.

In a televised address on Sunday, Karzai called on Afghans to exercise restraint in their anger.

"We have asked for punishment and an investigation," he said, CNN reported, adding that Karzai also expressed sorrow over the killing of the American officers.

President Barack Obama has apologized for the Quran burning.

The New York Times reported that at least six American service members were injured in a grenade attack in northern Afghanistan.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/120226/afghanistan-kabul-us-military-shooting-suspect-quran-madrassa