Military Vows to Cooperate in Afghan Crash Investigation

An Afghan investigation into a road crash involving a U.S. military vehicle that sparked Kabul's worst riots in years will start Saturday, and the U.S. military vowed to cooperate, officials said.

The U.S. military also is probing Monday's crash and whether its troops fired into a crowd of angry, stone-throwing Afghans afterward.

The anti-foreigner unrest left about 20 people dead, mostly from gunshot wounds, Afghan authorities have said. It was the worst such violence in the capital since the 2001 fall of the Taliban regime.

The head of Afghanistan's investigation, police Maj. Gen. Abdul Wakil, told The Associated Press on Friday that its work would officially begin Saturday.

CountryWatch: Afghanistan

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann has said American troops in Afghanistan could not be punished under local law. But the military said it would work with the Afghan inquiry.

"The coalition is committed to cooperating with the government of Afghanistan and specifically the Ministry of the Interior in determining the circumstances surrounding the accident," said Lt. Tamara D. Lawrence, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

She said the military had already begun coordinating with Wakil.

The U.S. military says its truck that rammed into cars at an intersection suffered brake failure, and that U.S. troops fired their weapons in self-defense after a crowd that gathered at the scene turned violent.

Military officials have not made clear whether U.S. troops fired into the crowd, as some Afghan officials claim.

President Hamid Karzai has said the truck accident killed up to five people. On Thursday he condemned the use of gunfire by U.S. troops, though he did not say whether he thought troops had fired into the crowd.

AP Television News video from Monday shows the mounted machine gun of a U.S. Humvee firing over the heads of Afghans shortly after the accident.

On Thursday, the deputy chief justice of Afghanistan's Supreme Court, Abdul Malik Kamawi, said his interpretation of Afghan law was that foreigners could be tried for crimes committed in Afghanistan.

Afghan lawmakers on Tuesday passed a nonbinding resolution calling for local prosecution of U.S. troops responsible for the crash.

The lawmakers' motion cannot compel the judiciary to pursue charges against U.S. troops, and no senior Afghan official has indicated they want to.