Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday called for an “accelerated” transition of security responsibilities from NATO forces in the wake of a scandal over US troops abusing Afghan corpses.
“The only way to put an end to such painful experiences is through an accelerated and full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” his office said in a statement.
Pictures published by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday showed US soldiers posing with the remains of Taliban insurgents, one of them with a man’s hand draped over his shoulder.
Karzai condemned the pictures as “inhumane and provocative,” adding: “It is such a disgusting act to take photos with body parts and then share it with others.”
He said similar incidents in the past had sparked an angry reaction by Afghans.
Every month this year a fresh scandal has rocked the alliance between the US and the Karzai government in their joint efforts against Taliban insurgents.
In January, a video showed US Marines urinating on Taliban corpses; in February, US soldiers burned copies of the Koran; and last month, a US soldier went on the rampage and murdered 17 villagers in their homes.
The Taliban were also quick to condemn the photographs, calling the two-year-old pictures “inhuman” and vowing revenge.
The Taliban “strongly condemns the brutal and inhuman act by the American invading force and their uncultured slaves,” they said in a statement.
In some of the pictures Afghan police are also seen with their US allies posing with the mangled remains of Taliban suicide bombers.
“This is what the invading Americans teach to their Afghan slaves,” the statement said, referring to the members of the Afghan security forces trained and funded by the US-led troops.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said those responsible would be punished, but voiced “regret” that the LA Times had decided to publish the images against his wishes, warning that they could prompt a violent backlash.
The LA Times published two of 18 photographs it was given by a soldier, who believed they pointed to a breakdown in leadership and discipline that compromised the safety of the troops.
The incident took place in February 2010, when paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team were sent to an Afghan police station in Zabul Province to inspect the remains of an alleged suicide bomber.
The soldiers had orders to try to get fingerprints and possibly scan the irises of the corpse, but instead they posed for pictures next to the Afghan police, the LA Times said.