September 14, 2010 / 3:09 PM / in 7 years

Canada probes commando conduct in Afghanistan: CBC

OTTAWA (Reuters) - In yet another blow to Canada’s troubled military mission in Afghanistan, the Defense Department is investigating allegations of misconduct by its elite commando force, CBC News said on Tuesday.

The investigation began in 2008 after a member of the commando group, Joint Task Force 2, raised serious allegations against another member of the force as well as JTF2 in general, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp quoted military officials as saying.

Officials normally say very little about the secretive commando unit but have in the past confirmed the force took part in operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

A Defense Department spokesman said he was not immediately able to comment on the CBC report, and offered no details about the alleged misconduct.

Earlier this year, the minority Conservative government was almost defeated over a scandal involving prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers being handed over to Afghan authorities.

Opposition parties suspect Ottawa knew the detainees were likely to be abused or tortured. If true, this would be a war crime.

Since 2007, the government has been battling allegations that it knew of Afghan prisoner mistreatment. It routinely dismisses the charges.

Last year, a top Canadian diplomat said military and government officials ignored evidence that Afghan authorities were torturing detainees handed over by Canadian troops, and then tried to silence those who raised the alarm.

Canada has around 2,800 soldiers in southern Afghanistan on a combat mission that will end next year. So far 152 have died and polls show the mission is increasingly unpopular.

The commander of Canada’s forces in Afghanistan was stripped of his duties in May because of allegations of an inappropriate personal relationship.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson

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