Mideast edition, Tuesday, June 26, 2007

NATO and Afghan officials have begun an investigation into alleged prisoner abuse by American and Afghan troops after the incident was reported by a German newsmagazine, officials said Monday.

The investigation stems from an alleged incident in which Afghan troops — with U.S. soldiers on the scene — tied a detainee’s leg to the back of a Humvee.

Threatening to drag the man down the road unless he did not cooperate with questioning, an American soldier allegedly started up the Humvee engine.

After a few minutes, the article in the magazine Focus alleged, the man agreed to cooperate and was untied from the Humvee.

A photo of the incident posted on the magazine’s Web site shows a bearded Afghan man in dirty white clothes, sitting with his hands tied behind his back and his right ankle attached to the back end of the Humvee with some kind of strap.

The article further alleged that the troops threatened his family members.

“This alleged behavior goes against everything the U.S. Military stands for and believes in,” U.S. Army Col. Martin P. Schweitzer, commander of the International Security Assistance Force troops in the region of the incident, said in a Monday news release.

“We take these accusations very seriously. The Coalition has appointed a senior officer to investigate the allegations in coordination with [Afghan National Security Forces] officials and the local community leaders. The soldier in question has been temporarily removed from his post, pending the outcome of the investigation.”

According to military officials, the U.S. unit involved was the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

The commander of the Afghan Army 203rd Corps, Maj. Gen. Abdul Khaliq, also appointed an investigating officer to look into the actions of the Afghan soldiers.

“We are here to lawfully protect the people of Afghanistan,” Khaliq said in the U.S. military news release. “We will not allow our soldiers to lose sight of the morals and beliefs that bring us together as countrymen and Muslims. Our people have been tortured and killed by the oppressive regime of the Taliban. We must take these accusations very seriously, but we will not make any judgments until the investigations are complete. The Afghan soldiers have also been suspended from their duties pending the investigation.”

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