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Karzai wants custody of Afghan prisoners & control of military operations

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A8C42E37-EB65-46A4-B330-0F7B33234DF7.htm Karzai asks US to cede Afghan control Sunday 22 May 2005, 9:55 Makka Time, 6:55
    Message 1 of 1 , May 22, 2005
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      http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A8C42E37-EB65-46A4-B330-0F7B33234DF7.htm

      Karzai asks US to cede Afghan control

      Sunday 22 May 2005, 9:55 Makka Time, 6:55 GMT

      Shocked by a US army report on detainee abuse in
      Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has said his
      government wants custody of all prisoners and control
      over US military operations.

      The abuse described in the report, including details
      of the deaths of two inmates at an Afghan detention
      centre, occurred in 2002 and emerged from a nearly
      2000-page file of US army investigators, The New York
      Times reported on Friday.

      "It has shocked me thoroughly and we condemn it,"
      Karzai said. "We want the US government to take very,
      very strong action, to take away people like that."

      Karzai, a staunch ally in the US-led war against
      terrorism, is due to leave on a US trip later on
      Saturday. He will meet President George Bush for talks
      next week.

      Karzai wants to forge a broad long-term partnership
      with his most important ally, but said he would
      reiterate a request for the return of Afghan prisoners
      and control over US military operations.

      The US commands a foreign force in Afghanistan of
      about 18,300, most of them American, fighting the
      Taliban and searching for Osama bin Laden.

      Heavy-handed tactics

      Many Afghans have criticised US troops for what are
      seen as heavy-handed tactics, such as breaking into
      people's homes in the middle of the night.

      Growing resentment against US forces was partly behind
      violent anti-American protests last week, analysts
      said.

      The protests were sparked by a report that US army
      interrogators had desecrated the Quran. Sixteen people
      were killed and many wounded in violence in several
      Afghan cities.

      That report by Newsweek was later retracted, but the
      International Committee of the Red Cross subsequently
      said it had told the Pentagon of reports that US
      personnel had mishandled the Quran in 2002.

      Karzai said searches should be carried out in
      cooperation with Afghan forces.

      Consultation

      "No operations inside Afghanistan should take place
      without the consultation of the Afghan government," he
      said.

      "They should not go to our people's homes any more
      without the knowledge of the Afghan government ... If
      they want any person suspected in a house, they should
      let us know and the Afghan government would arrange
      that."

      Karzai said he would also ask for "the return of
      prisoners to Afghanistan, all of them".

      The US is holding more than 500 prisoners from its war
      on terrorism at the Guantanamo Bay naval base on Cuba.

      Many of them were detained in Afghanistan after US-led
      troops overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001.

      The US army report centres on the death of a
      22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar and that
      of another detainee, Habib Allah, who died at the US
      base at Bagram, north of Kabul, six days earlier in
      December 2002.

      Torture

      According to the report, Dilawar was chained by his
      wrists to the top of his cell for several days before
      he died and his legs had been pummelled by guards.

      "The file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in
      repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment,
      which has resulted in criminal charges against seven
      soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths," The New
      York Times said.

      In sworn statements to army investigators, soldiers
      described mistreatment ranging from a female
      interrogator stepping on a detainee's neck and kicking
      another in the genitals to a shackled prisoner being
      made to kiss the boots of interrogators, according to
      the newspaper.

      US officials have characterised incidents of prisoner
      abuse at Bagram in 2002 as isolated problems that were
      thoroughly investigated, the newspaper said.

      Two army interrogators have been reprimanded and seven
      soldiers have been charged, the newspaper said.
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