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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 04:15 GMT
US troops accused of Iraq abuses
Prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
US treatment of terror suspects has attracted much criticism
Five US soldiers in Iraq have been charged with abusing detainees, the US military has said.

The soldiers are accused of punching and kicking detainees who were awaiting transfer to prison on 7 September, the military said in a statement.

The names and ranks of the five soldiers have not been made public.

It comes on the same day US President George W Bush defended his government's treatment of detainees, and insisted: "We do not torture".

He was responding to allegations in the Washington Post that the CIA ran secret jails in eastern Europe to hold high-profile terror suspects following the 11 September attacks.

The charges against soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment were laid on Saturday, the US military said on Monday.

"All allegations of abuse are taken very seriously and investigated thoroughly, and appropriate action is taken based on the findings of the investigation," the statement said.

Nine soldiers have been convicted of offences relating to abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. Those abuses came to light in April 2004.

'At war'

Figures released by the US last week said its forces were holding 13,885 prisoners at several detention centres across Iraq, including more than 5,000 at Abu Ghraib, a vast complex in western Baghdad.

Human rights groups have complained that US prisoners are sometimes detained arbitrarily, and kept for months on end without facing charges or trial.

The White House has not confirmed Washington Post claims that the CIA set up so-called "black sites" in eastern Europe and Asia to hold suspected terrorists.

Mr Bush told reporters that enemies were plotting to hurt the US and his government would pursue them, but would do so "under the law".

"We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice," he said.

"Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people."

The Senate has passed legislation banning torture, but the Bush administration is seeking an exemption for the CIA spy agency.

"We do not torture and therefore we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it more possible to do our job," Mr Bush said.

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