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Yanks burn bodies to taunt Taliban

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yep, just realised that, i cant get the right link up so ill cut and paste :roll:

US Fears Backlash After TV Documentary Shows Soldiers Burning Taliban Corpses

Friday, October 21, 2005

· Embassies worldwide try to defuse situation
· Afghans outraged by desecration

US embassies around the world were instructed last night to counter a potential anti-American backlash after a TV documentary showed US soldiers mocking some of Islam's most dearly held traditions.
Embassies will tell local governments that reported abuses by US troops in Afghanistan do not reflect American values. The documentary, on the Australian SBS network, showed US troops setting fire to the corpses of two Taliban fighters after a gun battle in southern Afghanistan. One soldier uses the smoking corpses to taunt local villagers, describing the Taliban as "cowardly dogs" and "lady boys".

"You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies," a soldier named as Sgt Jim Baker is seen saying through a loudspeaker.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the allegations were very serious and, if true, very troubling.

The images triggered outrage among Afghan clerics and officials and an almost immediate announcement of an American investigation. "This alleged action is repugnant to our common values," said Major General Jason Kamiya in a statement issued from Bagram air base, north of Kabul. "This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour seriously and has directed an investigation into the circumstances."

President Hamid Karzai's government said it would conduct its own investigation. "We strongly condemn any disrespect to human bodies, regardless of whether they are those of enemies or friends," said spokesman Karim Rahimi.

The desecration appears calculated to cause maximum offence. Cremation is not part of Islamic tradition and the reference to "facing west" seems to be a mockery of the practice of facing Mecca - which lies west of Afghanistan - during daily prayers. "This is against Islam. Afghans will be shocked by this news. It is so humiliating," said Faiz Mohammed, an Afghan Muslim leader.

The film was shot three weeks ago by Stephen Dupont, a freelance cameraman embedded with American soldiers conducting "psychological operations" near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. The soldiers told him they burned the bodies for hygienic reasons but the taunts appeared to indicate that they really wanted to rile the Taliban, he told SBS.

"They used that as psychological warfare, I guess you'd call it," he said. "They deliberately wanted to incite that much anger from the Taliban so the Taliban could attack them ... That's the only way they can find them."

The insults were delivered in the local Pashto language and translated into English by American forces on the scene, he said. The tape has not been verified. However, Major Matthew Mclaughlin, a spokesman for US Central Command in Florida, told the Guardian: "It certainly appears to be what it purports to be."

The Geneva Convention states that soldiers must ensure the dead are "honourably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged". Cremation is permitted only for "imperative reasons of hygiene or for motives based on the religions of the deceased."

The scandal will further erode the reputation of the American military in Afghanistan, already tarnished by reports of abuses at Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and local scandals. Last May it emerged that American soldiers at Bagram had tortured a Taliban suspect to death. The man was an innocent taxi driver.

Aggressive American searches of houses in the southern and eastern provinces are also deeply unpopular, causing President Karzai to publicly complain.

One Bush administration official told the New York Times that the tapes spelt "really bad news".
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