2 U.S. soldiers charged in alleged assaults

/ Source: The Associated Press

Two American soldiers have been charged with allegedly assaulting two detainees at a U.S.-led coalition base in southern Afghanistan, the military said Sunday.

The two troops allegedly punched the detainees on the chest, shoulders and stomach while they were being held at a base in Uruzgan province, a statement said. Neither detainee required medical attention, it said.

“The command remains committed to investigate all allegations of misconduct and will hold individuals responsible for their actions consistent with U.S. military law,” Brig. Gen. Jack Sterling, a deputy coalition commander, was quoted as saying.

The charges include conspiracy to maltreat, assault and dereliction of duty. The allegations, if proven, could lead to disciplinary action, the statement said.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara said the alleged assault occurred in early July.

He said the two soldiers were still in Afghanistan “performing their primary duties, but they have nothing to do with detained individuals.”

One of the two detainees has since been released, while the other is being held at Bagram, the U.S. military’s headquarters in Afghanistan, about 20 miles north of the capital, Kabul.

The announcement came 10 days after the U.S. military launched an investigation into allegations that some American troops allegedly burned the bodies of two Taliban rebels slain in battle, an act that purportedly was caught on video by an embedded freelance cameraman and broadcast on television.

Cremation of corpses is banned in Islam and the alleged desecration sparked outrage in Afghanistan. Some Islamic clerics warned of a violent anti-American backlash, but so far there have no demonstrations.