Afghan Gov't Probing Militia Working With U.S.

The Afghan government is investigating a militia working with U.S. forces for allegedly beating and robbing residents in a southern province after the Americans left the area, the president's spokesman said Friday.

Jawid Luddin, President Hamid Karzai's (search) spokesman, said the Interior Ministry sent investigators to Zabul province who confirmed some of the allegations by residents of the village of Dai Chopan (search). Regional officials have been asked to further determine who was to blame and the amount of damage for potential compensation.

The Los Angeles Times first reported on alleged abuses that occurred last week in Dai Chopan. Residents told the newspaper of beatings and robberies during a search operation, but said U.S. forces didn't witness the events.

Luddin said he was unable to provide any details of the allegations. Karzai has in the past raised cases of abuses with anti-terror coalition commanders, Luddin said.

The U.S.-led anti-terror coalition has scaled back its use of militia troops with loose allegiances to the central government — a necessary partnership in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban's ouster in late 2001 — in part to prevent such abuses, Luddin said.

"We learned from experience that if we continue to do that, it's not only going to be detrimental to expansion and consolidation of central authority, it's also going to create more cases of atrocities," he said.

Luddin said the coalition increasingly works with the Afghan army.

"That is why we have progressively seen less and less of similar situations arising," he said.

Still, he denied there had been a pattern of atrocities. "It's not a trend that we're talking about," Luddin said. "It's an accident that happened."

The U.S. campaign against the Taliban (search) relied on local forces, supported by coalition airstrikes. Karzai's government has increasingly tried to stem the influence of regional military commanders.