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Australia to Investigate Afghan Prisoner Mistreatment Claims

  • Phil Mercer

The Australian military is investigating claims that its soldiers mistreated prisoners in Afghanistan. A senior Afghan commander made the allegations. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

The Australian military has not given specific details about the allegations except to say they related to the treatment of suspected insurgents.

A senior Afghan National Army commander made the allegations recently during a meeting with officers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Australian radio reported Friday that the accusations involve four members of the Taliban who were taken into custody after an Australian soldier was killed during a gun battle in Afghanistan last month.

An Australian defense force spokesman says the matter will be taken "very seriously." He adds that Australian troops are well trained to ensure the "safe and humane treatment of detainees."

Neil James from the independent Australia Defense Association says the allegations are part of life in a combat zone.

"You also need to keep in mind of course that Taliban and al-Qaida training manuals basically say that false claims of maltreatment or mistreatment should be made the moment you are nabbed by any of the NATO countries. So, it is not altogether surprising that allegations like this get made from time to time," said James.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says he will be kept fully informed of the outcome of the investigation.

Australia joined the U.S.-led campaign to unseat the Taliban government from power in 2001, and still has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan.

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