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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karzai 'Shocked' by U.S. Abuse Report

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that he was shocked by a U.S. Army report on abuse of detainees in Afghanistan, saying his government wants custody of all Afghan prisoners and control of U.S. military operations.

The abuse described in the report, including details of the deaths of two inmates at an Afghan detention center, happened in 2002 and emerged from a nearly 2,000-page file of U.S. Army investigators, The New York Times reported on Friday.

"It has shocked me thoroughly and we condemn it," Karzai said at a news conference. "We want the U.S. government to take very, very strong action, to take away people like that."

Karzai, a staunch ally in the U.S.-led war against terrorism, was due to leave on a U.S. trip on Saturday and meet President George W. Bush for talks. Karzai wants to forge a long-term partnership with his most important ally but he said he would also reiterate a request for the return of Afghan prisoners and control over U.S. military operations.

The United States commands a foreign force in Afghanistan of about 18,300, most of them American. Many Afghans have criticized U.S. troops for what are seen as heavy-handed tactics, such as breaking into people's homes during the night to search for militants.

At the news conference, Karzai said searches should be carried out in cooperation with Afghan forces. "No operations inside Afghanistan should take place without the consultation of the Afghan government," he said.

"They should not go to our people's homes any more without the knowledge of the Afghan government. ... If they want any person suspected in a house, they should let us know and the Afghan government would arrange that."

Karzai said he would also ask for "the return of prisoners to Afghanistan, all of them." The United States holds more than 500 prisoners from its war on terror at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The U.S. Army report centers on the death of a 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died at the U.S. base at Bagram, six days earlier, in December 2002. The report says Dilawar was chained by his wrists to the top of his cell for several days before he died.

"The file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths," The New York Times said.

In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers described mistreatment ranging from a female interrogator stepping on a detainee's neck to a shackled prisoner being made to kiss interrogators' boots, according to the newspaper.

U.S. officials have characterized incidents of abuse at Bagram in 2002 as isolated problems that were thoroughly investigated, the newspaper said.