KABUL - Afghans will never accept US justice for five American soldiers involved in burning copies of the Koran, and could rise up in a "storm of fury" if there is no public trial, a senior cleric said on Saturday.

The burning of Korans at a NATO air base has incensed the Muslim nation and sparked protests, complicating efforts by the United States to forge a long-term security pact with Afghanistan ahead of an end-2014 foreign combat troop pullout.

"The military leaders who ordered the burning and the offenders should both be tried and punished ... This evil crime has been done inside Afghanistan so the punishment must be according to the country's law," Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, head of an Afghan group comprising clerics and parliamentarians investigating the incident, told Reuters.

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