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Iraq Transition

Iraq officials acknowledge new detainee abuse

Prime minister pledges investigation
A U.S. soldier takes a picture of an Iraqi police car involved in Tuesday's deadly gunfight in the northern city of Kirkuk.


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Many of the more than 160 detainees who were held at an Iraqi Interior Ministry building were physically abused, Iraq's deputy interior minister said Tuesday.

"I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating -- one or two cases were paralyzed, and some cases of skin peeled off various parts of the body," the official, Hussein Kamal, told CNN.

"I have never seen such a situation like this during the past two years in Baghdad. This is the worst and cannot be denied."

Kamal blamed a lack of jail cells in Iraq.

"A major problem we face is that there are not enough places to contain these detainees after the preliminary investigation is through with them," he said.

The U.S. military found the detainees Sunday when they entered a building controlled by the ministry while looking for a missing 15-year-old boy.

Brig. Gen. Karl Horst of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division said Monday the prisoners were found "in need of medical care -- so I brought medics in."

Kamal said the facility housed 161 detainees. "There were other registered names in that facility who were interrogated by the Special Investigation Unit, then sent to court," he said.

The U.S. military did not confirm the condition in which they found the detainees, but Iraqi police said they had been tortured. Kamal confirmed human rights abuses had taken place.

He added that the ministry cannot deny "knowledge of previous abuse cases where human rights were broken during the past two years."

The U.S. military has taken charge of the building and the detainees, he said.

Horst said Monday he had brought in a legal team to go through the detainees' files and a joint U.S.-Iraqi investigation was under way.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari pledged a ministerial-level investigation.

The American Embassy said it welcomed al-Jaafari's remarks and that Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, had discussed the situation with Iraqi leaders.

"The Iraqi government has the lead to investigate, prosecute and bring to justice those who may be found responsible for any abuse of detainees," the embassy said in a statement. " ... Together with the Iraqi authorities, we are committed to making sure that detainee mistreatment is not tolerated."

President Bush has said his administration doesn't condone torture.

But concerns that U.S. troops have tortured prisoners have dogged the Bush administration since April 2004, when graphic photographs of Army reservists mistreating prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad became public.

Recently, Democratic senators called for an independent probe into the treatment of prisoners in American custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, the Armed Services Committee's chairman, said that Congress already has held dozens of open and closed hearings into allegations of abuse by U.S. troops and the CIA and that investigations have found no policy condoning the mistreatment of prisoners.

Three Marines killed near Syria

Three U.S. Marines died Monday fighting in Operation Steel Curtain in western Iraq, the U.S. military said.

Makeshift bombs killed two Marines in Ubaydi, near the Syrian border. A third Marine was shot to death, the military said.

Since the start of the Iraq war, 2,069 U.S. service members have died.

Seven police officers killed

Two bombings in eastern Baghdad killed two police and wounded 13 others Tuesday, while two incidents in the northern city of Kirkuk left five police dead, authorities in both towns said.

A car bomb killed two officers at an eastern Baghdad restaurant during breakfast, Iraqi emergency police said. The bomb wounded six other officers and a civilian.

Later Tuesday, a roadside bomb wounded six civilians on a road leading to Zayouna police station.

In Kirkuk, a roadside bomb hit a police patrol in the center of the city, killing two officers, said Maj. Gen. Torhan Abdulrahman, the police chief.

In other violence, gunmen killed three officers and wounded one as they patrolled the city's center.

CNN's Enes Dulami, Cal Perry and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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