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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 November 2005, 08:54 GMT
US 'troubled' by Iraq abuse claim
A blindfolded arrested suspect lies in a detention room at the Wolf Brigade HQ in Baghdad
Iraqi security forces have faced repeated allegations of abuse
Washington has said it is troubled by the alleged abuse of more than 170 detainees held by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and backs an investigation.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari has ordered an investigation into the alleged abuse of the detainees.

The prisoners, many malnourished and some showing signs of apparent torture, were found by US troops on Sunday.

The allegations come as the US faces pressure to be more transparent about the treatment of its prisoners.

The Bush administration has been swift to distance itself from these latest reports of prisoner abuse, reports the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington.

The US is backing the Iraqi government inquiry and believes those responsible for mistreatment should be held to account.

Fresh allegations have also surfaced of US troops mistreating detainees.

Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said the prisoners had now been moved
Two former Iraqi prisoners have told US TV they were beaten, fired at with rubber bullets and subjected to mock executions at the hands of US troops in 2003.

While the US insists that it does not condone torture, it has lobbied against legislation that would ban all inhumane treatment of detainees.

Some senior officials have argued that the CIA should be exempt.

The US is also under increasing international pressure to answer allegations that the CIA is operating secret prisons abroad.

'Hard evidence'

The US raid on an Iraqi interior ministry building followed repeated enquiries by the parents of a missing Iraqi teenager.

Iraq's prime minister has promised to find those responsible for any abuse. Most of those held were Sunnis.

The allegations are a deep embarrassment for the Iraqi government, but, however shocking, they will not come as a major surprise to many Iraqis, says the BBC's Caroline Hawley in Baghdad.

I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating, one or two detainees were paralysed and some had their skin peeled off various parts of their bodies
Hussein Kamal
Deputy interior minister
There have been persistent allegations of abuse by members of the Shia-dominated security forces, she says.

But Sunday's discovery is hard evidence and officials believe it may be the tip of the iceberg.

There are suspicions the building may also have been used as a base for a militia called the Badr Brigade, and that such militias may have infiltrated Iraq's security services, our correspondent adds.

The prison is reported to be in the central Jadiriya district of Baghdad.

Mr Jaafari said he had been told that 173 detainees had been held, that they appeared malnourished, and may have been "subjected to some kind of torture".

Deputy interior minister Hussein Kamal, who saw some of the abuse victims personally, said: "I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating, one or two detainees were paralysed and some had their skin peeled off various parts of their bodies."

Repeated allegations

Dr Laith Kubba, a spokesman for Mr Jaafari, said the prime minister was putting all his weight behind the inquiry.

Iraqi soldiers on patrol
Iraqi security forces have faced repeated allegations of abuse
"This is outrageous," he told the BBC's Newsnight programme. "It goes very much against the core values that the prime minister and his government hold."

But he said methods used under Saddam Hussein had not been completely eradicated despite efforts to introduce new practices.

The security forces have faced repeated allegations of systematic abuse and torture of detainees, and of extra-judicial killings.

A report by pressure group Human Rights Watch earlier this year said methods used by Iraqi police included beating detainees with cables, hanging them from their wrists for long periods and giving electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body.

Hear more details on the detainees that were found



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