U.S. soldier in custody after death of Afghan prisoner

Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:04pm EDT
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By Patrick Markey

KABUL (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier has been taken into custody after an Afghan detainee was found dead in his cell in southern Afghanistan at the weekend, apparently from a gunshot wound, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office issued a statement saying Karzai had ordered an investigation into the death.

The U.S. military said it had opened a criminal investigation. "The detainee, who died of an apparent gunshot wound, was being held temporarily at an Afghan government facility under U.S. guard," it said in a statement.

He was "known to be a senior leader of the Taliban network in Arghandab," a district north of the provincial capital of Kandahar.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) initially said a man captured during an operation in Kandahar on Saturday had been found dead in his cell the next day.

Karzai's palace said coalition forces had entered the prison in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, on Sunday night and killed the detainee, who it named as Mullah Mohebullah. It used a word that can be translated as "killed" or "murdered."

Violence is at its worst across Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, with military and civilian casualties at record levels despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops.

FRICTION   Continued...