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Afghan President Condemns US Over Alleged Abuse of Prisoners


Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expressing outrage over the alleged abuse of Afghan detainees by U.S. military personnel, has demanded that his government be consulted on all U.S. military operations in the country.

President Karzai says he was shocked by the reported deaths at the U.S.-run prison in Bagram of two Afghan detainees, and says he wants all Afghan prisoners - whether in the country or under U.S. control abroad - turned over to Afghan custody.

"We condemn it," Mr. Karzai said. " We want the [U.S.] government to take very, very strong action to take away people like that who are working with the forces in Afghanistan."

Mr. Karzai says he also wants his government consulted on all U.S. military operations in the country. There are currently around 18,000 international troops in Afghanistan under U.S. command, most of them involved in hunting remnants of al-Qaida and the former Taleban government.

Mr. Karzai's comments, made Saturday just before he left on a visit to the United States, were prompted by a story in the New York Times newspaper, describing the deaths of two Afghan men held at the Bagram military base north of Kabul.

The newspaper, quoting a confidential U.S. Army investigation into prisoner abuse in 2002, said the two died from beatings at the hands of U.S. personnel.

Mr. Karzai told reporters he would raise the issue with U.S. leaders while in Washington.

U.S. officials have denounced the alleged misconduct, and promised that those responsible would be held to account. The White House says seven people have been charged in the case.

The U.S. military says the two deaths were isolated incidents that violated U.S. policy.

The latest controversy comes as the U.S. military's treatment of prisoners is under attack by Muslims around the world.

The U.S. magazine Newsweek reported last week that U.S. soldiers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba desecrated the Koran during prisoner interrogations.

That story, which Newsweek later retracted, sparked widespread anti-American protests in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Demonstrations continued this week in several countries, including Somalia, India and England.

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