Karzai to take up prison abuse issue with US

Associated Press

Kabul, May 21:

Afghanistan’s president today demanded “very, very strong” action by the United States against any military personnel found to be abusing prisoners, after a newspaper report

alleged maltreatment of detainees at the main US base here. President Hamid Karzai said he will bring up the issue when he meets American leaders during a four-day visit to the United States starting today. The abuse allegations were in a New York Times report yesterday that cited a 2,000-page confidential file on the Army’s criminal investigation into the deaths of the two Afghans at the Bagram base north of the capital, Kabul, in December 2002.

“It has shocked me totally. We condemn it. We want the US government to take very, very strong action against people like that in their forces in Afghanistan,” he told reporters before leaving Kabul. “Definitely, I will see about that when I am in the United States.” The US military, responding to the allegations, has defended its treatment of detainees, saying it would not tolerate maltreatment. Spokesman for the US military in Kabul, Col James Yonts, said, “The members of the military and civilian sections are expected to abide by the highest standards and when their actions contradict these standards appropriate action will be taken.”

Bid to free Italian hostage

KABUL: Afghan authorities are continuing negotiations to release Clementina Cantoni, 32, an Italian aid worker in her fifth day of captivity after identifying her abuductor, President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday. “We are working on releasing her safely and we want her release for the good of Afghanistan, Italy and aid work in Afghanistan,” Karzai said. — AFP

Taliban poll-hopeful

KANDAHAR: A second senior former member of the ousted Taliban regime said on Saturday he has enrolled as a candidate in Afghan legislative elections, while the country’s president urged more women to take part in the polls. Mullah Mohammed Khaksar, former Taliban deputy interior minister, said he would run as an independent candidate in the September elections.— AP