KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. military has launched a criminal inquiry after an Australian television station showed U.S. forces in Afghanistan burning bodies of dead Taliban.
A statement Wednesday from U.S. Central Command condemned any "desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants."
"Such actions," the statement went on, "are contrary to U.S. policy as well as the Geneva Convention."
Earlier that day, the Australian news program Dateline had shown pictures of U.S. troops burning the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters -- an act grossly offensive to Muslims -- and then broadcasting sexual taunts about the desecration into a nearby village believed to be sheltering their compatriots.
Muslim funeral tradition requires that bodies be washed, prayed over, wrapped in white linen and buried, if possible within 24 hours. According to the Geneva Conventions the disposal of war dead "should be honorable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged."
The CENTCOM statement said the Army Criminal Investigation Division had launched an investigation,
"Should that investigation uncover actions by U.S. personnel that were contrary to the Geneva Convention and U.S. policy, legal and disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the U.S. Code of Military Justice," it said.
The U.S. military on the ground told the program that they burned the bodies for hygiene reasons, an explanation that its reporters doubted.