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Afghanistan says U.S. special forces may be behind torture, murder

By Josh Levs, CNN
February 25, 2013 -- Updated 1025 GMT (1825 HKT)
U.S. toops patrol in Wardak province of Afghanistan in 2010.
U.S. toops patrol in Wardak province of Afghanistan in 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "Such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred," Karzai's office says
  • An armed group is torturing and killing innocent people, Afghanistan's government says
  • The group is "named as" U.S. special forces, according to the Afghan president's office
  • The U.S. military says it is investigating

(CNN) -- The Afghan government says armed individuals who may be U.S. special forces carried out acts of torture and murder, allegations that spurred it to demand that members of the elite American military units leave a key province west of Kabul.

The U.S. military says it is investigating.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force must stop all special force operations out of Wardak province, an area west of the Afghan capital where the alleged horrors took place, Afghanistan's National Security Council demanded. And all U.S. special forces must be gone from the province within two weeks.

At a meeting of the council, led by President Hamid Karzai, "it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special force stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people," Karzai's office said in a statement. It did not indicate who "named" the group a U.S. special force.

Nine people "disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force," according to the president's office. And in another incident, a student was taken from his home at night, and his "tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge."

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"Such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred," Karzai's office said.

It added that the United States rejects any suggestion that its special forces carried out any such operation.

Afghan forces must protect people in the province "by effectively stopping and bringing to justice any groups that enter peoples' homes in the name of special force and who engage in annoying, harassing and murdering innocent people," the statement said.

"We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them," U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. Until military officials speak with Afghan officials about the issue, "we are not in a position to comment further," the statement added.

"This is an important issue that we intend to fully discuss with our Afghan counterparts."

Last April, the United States and Afghanistan signed a deal giving Afghan authorities an effective veto over controversial special forces missions.

The agreement prevents ISAF from conducting such operations without the explicit permission of Afghan officials, said a senior NATO official. And special operations forces will operate under Afghan law, said a statement from Karzai's office.

The complex system fully"Afghanized" such operations, putting Afghan commandos in the lead and giving American special forces a "training and support role," a senior Afghan official said.

Under the deal, U.S. special forces would be on the ground but would not enter the home of an Afghan unless specifically asked to do so by the Afghan commandos leading the operation, or by other Afghan officials, according to a senior NATO official.

This pact followed months of recriminations against special operations raids, particularly at night, that have deeply offended some Afghans angry about foreigners entering their homes.

U.S. officials have said such raids are vital to NATO's operation against insurgents.

CNN's Greg Botelho, Barbara Starr and Nick Paton Walsh contributed to this report.

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