Afghan president Hamid Karzai has ordered U.S. special forces to leave Afghanistan's turbulent Maidan Wardak province following local reports that Afghan civilians had been tortured and "disappeared" under the oversight of U.S. Special Ops.
The New York Times noted that, with the ban, "the government signaled its willingness to take a far harder line against abuses linked to foreign troops than it has in the past. The action also reflected a deep distrust of international forces that is now widespread in Afghanistan."
Maidan Wardak adjoins Kabul and has become a focal point in recent years for efforts to stop Taliban insurgents reaching the capital. "After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special forces stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people," a statement from Karzai's presidential palace read.
The statement continued:
A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge," the statement added. "However, Americans reject having conducted any such operation and any involvement of their special force."
According to the AP, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has as yet "found no evidence to support Afghan allegations of misconduct." The claims of misconduct have largely focused on Afghan militias working with the American special forces, although there was some suggestion in Karzai's statement that U.S. forces were involved directly in alleged abuses too. The AP reported that NATO will meet with the Afghan government to discuss the issue.