U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said that the alleged burning of two dead Taliban fighters by American soldiers did not reflect American values and promised a prompt investigation.
Neumann emphasized the Pentagon would promptly investigate the report that surfaced Wednesday when an Australian television network aired video purportedly showing U.S. soldiers scorching the corpses of two Taliban fighters in the hills near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
The SBS Australian network said the footage was taken on Oct. 1. by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont, who told The Associated Press he was embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army earlier this month. In the footage, which was seen by the AP, two soldiers who spoke with American accents later read taunting messages that the SBS said were broadcast to the village, which was believed to be harboring Taliban soldiers.
Dupont said the soldiers responsible for the taunting messages were part of a U.S. Army psychological operations unit. Cremating bodies is banned by Islamic custom and Islamic clerics in Afghanistan have warned of a possible violent anti-American backlash. In Kabul, President Hamid Karzai condemned the alleged actions of the American soldiers, but was also quick to try to calm passions over the incident, saying Friday that "soldiers make mistakes" in war. Though local media in Afghanistan has reported on the alleged desecration, the video has not yet been broadcast there and by late Friday there were no demonstrations. The last anti-American protests that turned violent were in May over a report _ later retracted _ that U.S. soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility had abused the Quran, Islam's holy book, AP reports.