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Aussie forces accused of mistreatment

Sept. 3, 2008 at 10:55 AM

SYDNEY, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Australia's defense minister is backing his country's military against charges it mistreated Taliban captives in Afghanistan.

Four suspected insurgents captured in late April were held for 24 hours in a compound occasionally used for dogs, Voice of America reported Wednesday.

Ikebal Patel, the president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, charges Australian forces behaved irresponsibly by placing the captives in dog pens. Dogs are considered to be impure in Islamic tradition.

"We always endeavor to comply on all occasions with international law and I'm confident that our people have done so," Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon told VOA.

"You know we are at war in Afghanistan with people who would employ any tactic including the use of children as shields and as a means of propaganda and it's a tough battle," Fitzgibbon said.

Australian has some 1,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.

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