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Afghan strongman ‘raped, killed and tortured’

The head of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission has urged Hamid Karzai's government and Nato to investigate allegations that an Afghan strongman employed by United States Army Special Forces embarked on a spate of war crimes, including rape, the summary execution of children, and torture.

“We call on Special Forces — |indeed, any forces — and the Afghan government to conduct an investigation of these allegations and find out if (the allegations are) correct or not,” said Nader Nadery, who heads the Human Rights Commission.

He said the commission would make its own efforts to verify the claims against Commander Azizullah, the leader of a US-sponsored militia in the south-eastern Paktika province, but “it is a core responsibility of the government of Afghanistan to launch an investigation; this is the only way to build confidence in (the country's security) forces.”

A spokesman for Mr Karzai's office said officials had been asked to look into the allegations against Commander Azizullah.

Officials have been similarly reluctant to speak out about three photographs published on Monday showing US soldiers posing with the bodies of Afghan civilians they're alleged to have killed for sport. The images are likely to spark public outrage as they are disseminated across Afghanistan.

With an announcement yesterday by Mr Karzai that Afghan |soldiers and police would take control of two provinces and four cities from Nato this summer, there may have been little desire to cloud the moment with calls for war crimes investigations.

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