Afghanistan to Probe Alleged Abuses By Troops in Helmand
 
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The government announced it will investigate a recent report by a foreign media outlet accusing Afghan security forces in Helmand province of rape, torture, drug use and robbery.

British newspaper The Independent reported Sunday on a soon-to-air BBC investigation that alleges that Afghan forces in Helmand behave "just like criminals."

The investigation details incidents of molestation of underage boys and detention and subsequent execution of several civilians for alleged connection with the Taliban, according to The Independent.

The government has promised to investigate the allegations and prosecute any perpetrators.

"Anyone found guilty will be punished. We will sent a delegation to Helmand to investigate the report," Ministry of Interior Spokesman Sediq Sediqi said.

The Ministry of Defense Spokesman General Zahir Azimi also emphasized that anyone found guilty would be severely punished.

"If we find evidence about involvement of ANA soldiers in such acts, they will be severely punished," Azimi told TOLOnews.

Afghan analysts warn that such incidents of abuse by the security forces would erode the public's confidence in the government.

"Such incidents can increase the gap between the government and the public in the future," military affairs analyst Noorulhaq Olomi said.

Afghan security forces are slated to take on security responsibilities for all of Afghanistan by the end of 2013. The report comes at the heels of a UN investigation that found widespread torture at government prisons.

The report prompted a government investigation that resulted in a presidential decree prohibiting torture and threatening to prosecute officials found guilty of prisoner abuse.

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