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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Karzai shock at US Afghan 'abuse'
US soldier in Afghanistan
The report was leaked by someone involved in the US inquiry
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded action from the US after new details emerged of alleged abuse of prisoners by US troops in Afghanistan.

Mr Karzai said he was shocked and would raise the issue with President George W Bush when he meets him next week.

The soldiers involved in the deaths of two inmates and alleged abuse of others should be punished, Mr Karzai said.

The allegations are detailed by the New York Times citing a 2,000-page document leaked from a US army investigation.

"The US government must take strong and clear-cut action," the Afghan president told a news conference shortly before leaving for the United States.


He said the alleged abuse was against humanity. Asked if he would be as forthright when he meets Mr Bush, he answered "absolutely".

Mr Karzai, a US ally who came to power following the collapse of the Taleban regime in late 2001, has recently spoken of "US military mistakes".

His four-day trip follows recent violent anti-US protests in Afghanistan following allegations in Newsweek magazine - now retracted - that US guards at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had desecrated the Koran.

Public opinion

The BBC's Andrew North in Kabul says the Afghan leader is taking a much more forceful stand than he has in the past towards the US, a country he still regards as indispensable to Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai addresses news conference in Kabul 21 May 2005
It has shocked me totally... We want the US government to take very, very strong action
Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Our correspondent says his comments are a reflection of concern in Kabul at the impact on Afghan public opinion of the many different allegations of US abuses.

The New York-based organisation Human Rights Watch says the Afghan abuse allegations will not be adequately investigated or prosecuted until an independent commission deals with the issue.

Officials in Washington said the alleged abuses detailed in the New York Times were being investigated and those responsible would be held to account.

Seven US servicemen have already been charged in relation to the two deaths at Bagram military base, north of Kabul, in 2002.

The new allegations relate to the level of abuse the two prisoners - known only as Dilawar and Habibullah - are said to have been subjected to.

'Innocent man'

Dilawar, 22, was said to have been chained to a ceiling by his wrists for four days, and then beaten on his legs more than 100 times during a 24-hour period.

He was being questioned about an attack on a US air base, but the report says most interrogators believed him to be an innocent taxi driver who simply drove past at the time of the attack.

Other reported abuses included:

  • A prisoner being forced to kiss the boots of interrogators
  • Another prisoner being forced to pick plastic bottle tops out of a drum filled with excrement and water
  • A female interrogator stepping on a man's neck and kicking another in the genitals.

A Pentagon spokesman said the New York Times was trying to make a new story out of old material, adding that the investigation was "very serious and very detailed".

"The standard has always been humane treatment for all detainees. When that standard is not met we will take action," the spokesman said.

The New York Times said it received the report from a person involved in the US investigation who was critical of the interrogation methods used, and of a subsequent inquiry.

The US military initially said there was no indication of abuse in the two men's deaths and that interrogation techniques were methods that were "generally accepted".

After a later inquiry, last October, it emerged that 27 soldiers faced probable criminal charges. Among them are the seven who have since been charged.

Details of the allegations in Afghanistan

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