Source Pravda.Ru

Two soldiers face charges over alleged assault in Afghanistan

Two U.S. soldiers have been charged with assault for allegedly punching two detainees at a military base in Afghanistan, the military confirmed Monday.

The announcement came a week and a half after the military launched an investigation into television footage purportedly showing a group of U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban rebels.

The alleged assault on detainees occurred at a base in southern Uruzgan province in early July, U.S. military spokesman Col. James Yonts said. Neither detainee required medical attention.

The charges include conspiracy to maltreat, assault, and dereliction of duty. The allegations, if substantiated, could lead to disciplinary action.

"The command remains committed to investigate all allegations of misconduct and will hold individuals responsible for their actions consistent with U.S. military law," Brig. Gen. Jack Sterling, a deputy coalition commander, was quoted as saying.

The military launched an investigation into the alleged abuse after a U.S. soldier learned about it and notified his commanders, Yonts told reporters.

One of the two detainees has since been released, while the other is being held at Bagram, the U.S. military's headquarters in Afghanistan, about 30 kilometers north of the capital, Kabul.

He said the two soldiers were still in Afghanistan "performing their primary duties, but they have nothing to do with detained individuals."

It was not immediately clear if the latest abuse allegation would cause an outcry here. Mistreatment of detainees by Afghan police and Afghan prison guards is not unusual.

The last claims of military abuse here, the alleged burning of the two Taliban bodies on Oct. 1, was condemned by President Hamid Karzai. The government ordered an immediate independent inquiry and called for the perpetrators to be severely punished if found guilty, the AP reports.

V.Y.

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