Afghan head lists abuses by U.S. forces

Feb. 25, 2013 at 2:09 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Afghan officials said they demanded U.S. Special Operations forces leave Wardak province because NATO ignored allegations of abuse by the elite troops.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Sunday rocked the International Security Assistance Force by ordering all U.S. Special Ops forces to leave Wardak in two weeks, saying Afghans working for the elite force have tortured villagers.

NATO officials did not comment Monday on whether Karzai's demand for an immediate halt to Special Operation forces' activity in Wardak was implemented, The Washington Post reported.

The Afghan president's action rose from a report Wardak Gov. Abdul Majid Khogyani presented to the Afghan National Security Council Sunday.

For the past three months, Khogyani said, he has received complaints from tribal elders, religious leaders and others about the behavior of U.S. Special Operations troops, including allegations that nine people were arrested and have disappeared.

"When I spoke with various U.S. forces in the province they did not tell us anything about the fate of the nine -- whether they are alive, in prison or dead," Khogyani told the Post. "People want to know what has happened to them."

"We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them," German Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz, a coalition forces spokesman, told a news conference Monday.

NATO said previous inquiries found no evidence to support allegations of misconduct by U.S. Special Operations forces in the province southwest of Kabul.

A joint commission of inquiry made up of Afghan and NATO coalition officials was expected to be formed in a few days to investigate Karzai's claims, including allegations of the arrest, torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians.

During a news conference in London Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he wasn't surprised by Karzai's request.

"I understand the concerns that they have expressed. And appropriately, any complaints that they may have ought to be appropriately evaluated, and they will be, I can assure you," Kerry said. "That's a matter for ISAF to examine. I have taken appropriate note of it."

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