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Red Cross Gives First Aid Training to Afghanistan's Taliban, Report Says

The Red Cross in Afghanistan has been teaching the Taliban basic first aid and giving them medical equipment to help fighters wounded in battles with NATO and Afghani forces, The Guardian claimed Tuesday.

More than 70 members of the "armed opposition" received training in April, the Red Cross has said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had offered its medical expertise because it was difficult for the wounded to get to hospitals because of battles, land mines and roadblocks. 

The organization aims to remain neutral in the conflict. It has also trained Afghan soldiers, policemen and taxi-drivers who act as a make-shift ambulance service in Helmand and Kandahar.

However, a leading figure in Kandahar's local government, who wanted to remain anonymous, expressed outrage over the development.

He told the Guardian: "They [the Taliban] are like animals, and they treat the people they capture worse than animals.

"They kidnapped and killed an American lady and then wouldn't even return her body. These people don't deserve this help."

The Afghan ministries of defense and interior both refused to comment on what they said was a highly controversial issue.

A NATO spokesman said: "NATO has tremendous respect for the humanitarian work carried out by the ICRC and we recognize the need for this work to be carried out impartially."

Injured insurgents are generally accepted at Afghan hospitals but there have been cases of security forces raiding hospitals and arresting staff for treating the Taliban.