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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Afghans selling US army 'files'
Market outside Bagram base, near Kabul
A market has sprung up outside the Bagram airbase near Kabul
US forces in Afghanistan are checking reports that stolen computer hardware containing military secrets is being sold at a market beside a big US base.

Shopkeepers at a market next to Bagram base, outside Kabul, have been selling memory drives stolen from the facility, the Los Angeles Times newspaper says.

The disks reportedly contain personal details about US soldiers, military defences and lists of enemy targets.

A US spokesman said an investigation had been ordered into the reports.

Lt Mike Cody said the military was looking into "allegations that sensitive military items are being sold in local bazaars".

"Coalition officials regularly survey bazaars across Afghanistan for the presence of contraband materials, but thus far have not uncovered sensitive or classified items," he said.

The Los Angeles Times report said disks on sale at the market outside Bagram contained the names of allegedly corrupt Afghan officials, reports on enemy targets and details about US defences.

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A separate report by the Associated Press news agency appeared to confirm sensitive information could be acquired from the market.

The agency said its reporter bought several disks from the Bagram market, some of which contained confidential information about US soldiers.

One file reportedly described the type of training a group of soldiers had received. Another file is said to have contained a manual for flying the US military's Chinook helicopter.

'Stolen by workers'

According to the reports, the computer drives were on sale alongside other items, apparently also from the Bagram base.

Memory drives bought from Bagram market, near Kabul
An AP reporter shows memory drives bought from Bagram

These included US military uniforms and equipment such as compasses and binoculars.

A shopkeeper interviewed by the Associated Press news agency said he was not interested in the worth of the information on the memory drives.

He reportedly said he was selling the items for their value as hardware alone.

"They were all stolen from offices inside the base by the Afghans working there," he told the agency.

"I get them all the time."

Hundreds of Afghans are said to be working as cleaners, labourers and auxiliary staff at the Bagram base.

The base has been used by US forces since their invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

US and Nato troops are in the country fighting insurgents linked to the ousted Taleban militia.




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