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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Abu Ghraib Photos Could Incense Iraqis

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- New images of naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor, threatened to revive public anger over abuse by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison at a time when tensions with the West are already running high in the Middle East.

The images were taken about the same time as the earlier photos three years ago that triggered a worldwide scandal and led to military trials and prison sentences for several lower-ranking American soldiers. Some key Iraqi officials urged their countrymen to react calmly since the pictures were old and the offenders had been punished.

Many of the pictures broadcast Wednesday by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, including some that appear to show corpses, were more graphic than those previously published.

Eighteen new images appeared Thursday on the web site Salon.com, which said it had obtained more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents from the Army Criminal Investigation Command investigation of the case.

Salon.com said the material included a June 6, 2004, CID report that referred to 1,325 images of detainee abuse, 94 video files of abuse as well as images of adult pornography, suspected dead Iraqi detainees, soldiers in simulated sexual acts, "a soldier with a swastika drawn between his eyes," dogs used in abuse of detainees and "125 images of questionable acts."

In the Middle East, where there have been widespread anti-Western protests recently over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, television stations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya aired some of the Australian station's footage but refrained from using the most shocking and sexually explicit images.

Iraq's prime minister on Thursday condemned the new images of abuse, but noted that those responsible had already been punished.

Iraq's acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was "horrified" by the pictures and would study whether any action could be taken against those responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the U.S. Defense Department believed the release of additional images of prisoner abuse was harmful and "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world."

Another defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Army officials had reviewed the photographs posted on the Sydney Morning Herald's web site and matched them to images that were among those turned over to military authorities in 2004 by a U.S. soldier.

The new Abu Ghraib pictures emerged as the United States is trying to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab community, the backbone of the insurgency, in hopes of encouraging Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and join the political process.

Most of those who suffered abuse at Abu Ghraib were believed to have been Sunni Arabs. Sunni leaders have also alleged mistreatment by Shiite-led Iraqi government security forces, further sharpening sectarian tensions.

Earlier this week, release of video showing British troops beating Iraqi youths during a violent 2004 protest in the southern city of Amarah prompted the Basra provincial administration to sever ties with British authorities.

Presidential security adviser Lieutenant General Wafiq al-Samaraei called the abuse "unjustifiable" but added that it was important to remember that the actions occurred more than two years ago, offenders had been punished and rules on treatment of prisoners had been tightened.

The Australian station refused to say how it obtained the images, and their authenticity could not be verified independently. They were consistent, however, with earlier photographs of abuse by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib.

 The United States should release all detainees being held at its detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or bring them to trial and shut the facility down, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

The 54-page report, summarizing an investigation by five UN experts, called on the U.S. government "to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention center and to refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."