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World - Reuters
U.S. Soldiers Watched Massacre of Taliban-Filmmaker
Wed Dec 18, 6:09 PM ET
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Scottish filmmaker Jamie Doran said on Wednesday he hoped his documentary about an alleged massacre of Taliban prisoners of war last year would lead U.S. authorities to investigate any involvement of American soldiers.

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Slideshow Slideshow: Afghanistan

In his film "Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death," which was broadcast on Germany's ARD television network, Doran quotes witnesses who saw U.S. special forces stand by and watch as Northern Alliance allies murdered Taliban POWs.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin rejected claims made in the film.

"The claims are completely false that American soldiers were involved in the torture, execution and disappearance of Taliban prisoners," the spokesman said. "In no way did U.S. troops participate or witness any human rights violations."

Doran, an award-winning documentary filmmaker who covered the Afghan war for Japanese television, said in an interview with Reuters in Berlin up to 3,000 Taliban POWs were killed late last year after surrendering at Kunduz in northern Afghanistan (news - web sites).

"This film is about the disappearance and murder of up to 3,000 Taliban POWs and the involvement of the U.S. special forces in that disappearance," Doran said after members of the German parliament invited him to discuss the alleged massacre.


Doran, 46, said witnesses from different ethnic groups in Afghanistan told him during his investigation into the suspected war crimes they saw Taliban POWs herded into unventilated shipping containers, where many died of suffocation, thirst, or starvation.

In the film broadcast on Wednesday, eyewitnesses are quoted saying some of the Taliban held in the containers for up to four days had taken to licking sweat off each other and even biting into the corpses lying next to them out of desperation.

One witness said about 600 Taliban POWs who survived the shipment of the containers to the Shiberghan prison 75 miles away were taken to a spot in the desert at Dasht-e-Leili and executed -- in the presence of about 30 to 40 U.S. special forces soldiers.

"All the injured and sick were transferred to my truck," said one eyewitness identified as a truck driver but whose face was concealed in the film. "Some were injured, some were unconscious. They were shot here and here and here," he added, pointing to spots in the desert.

The truck driver, who said he made four trips with about 150 Taliban in a container on the back of his truck, was asked if American soldiers were present at the executions in the desert.

"Yes, they were here," he said, standing in the center of a 1,000 square meter (10,760 square foot) mass grave site where bones, army uniform fragments and bullet casings were filmed. "Lots of them, maybe 30 to 40. The first two trips they were here. I didn't see them on my last two trips."

Doran's 55-minute film also includes allegations from witnesses who say they saw U.S. soldiers taking part in the torture of Taliban POWs at the Shiberghan prison.

Doran said he spent six weeks trying unsuccessfully to obtain comment from the Pentagon (news - web sites) in Washington for his film.

"I would like to see the American authorities agree to a proper investigation," he said. "They have nothing to fear from the truth. I have the feeling they hope the story will go away.

"We establish beyond a reasonable doubt that U.S. soldiers stood by and did nothing to prevent it (the massacre)," he added. "I have absolutely no evidence that American troops were involved in the shooting that took place in the desert."

Afghan General Abdul Rashid Dostum has rejected reports his troops killed up to 1,000 Taliban fighters by taking them to Shiberghan prison in the airless containers. He said up to 200 died, but they were already badly injured from fighting.

Dostum was a key U.S. ally in late 2001 when he helped oust the Taliban from northern Afghanistan with the help of U.S. air attacks. U.S. special forces are still in the north working with leaders to hunt Taliban and al Qaeda members.

Doran said his documentary was screened on commercial and public networks in Britain, Australia and Italy. Rights have been sold or are about to sold to networks in 25 territories.

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