SYDNEY, Australia The U.S. military and the Afghan government said Thursday they will investigate a TV report that claimed U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan burned the bodies of two Taliban fighters and taunted other Islamic militants. The U.S. military said it found the report "repugnant."

A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai (search) said the government has launched its own inquiry.

"We strongly condemn any disrespect to human bodies regardless of whether they are those of enemies or friends," said Karzai spokesman Karim Rahimi.

Australia's SBS television network broadcast video that purportedly showed U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of the suspected Taliban fighters in the hills outside the southern village of Gonbaz, near the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.

The network said the footage was taken by a freelance journalist, Stephen Dupont, who told The Associated Press he was embedded with the 173rd Airborne Brigade (search) of the U.S. Army earlier this month. Dupont said the burnings happened on Oct. 1.

In the footage, which was seen by the AP, two soldiers who spoke with American accents later read taunting messages that the SBS said were broadcast to the village, which was believed to be harboring Taliban soldiers.

(Story continues below)

ADVERTISEMENTSAdvertise Here



Dupont said the soldiers responsible for the taunting messages were part of a U.S. Army psychological operations unit.

The U.S. military said the Army Criminal Investigation Division had opened an investigation into alleged misconduct that included "the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances."

"This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously and has directed an investigation into circumstances surrounding this allegation," Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya said in a statement the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Shortly after the bodies were burned, the soldiers from the psychological operations unit allegedly read out taunting messages about the act over a loudspeaker to the nearby village, according to a transcript of the program.

"Taliban, you are all cowardly dogs. You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve their bodies," said one message read by a soldier, according to the transcript.

The footage did not show the messages being broadcast, though it did show some military vehicles were fitted with speakers and playing loud music.

Dupont told the AP the messages had been broadcast in the local dialect but were translated into English for him by members of the Army psychological operations unit.

He declined to provide further information, however, saying his agent was now handling all queries about the footage.

Cremation of bodies is not part of Islamic tradition, which calls for remains to be washed, prayed over, wrapped in white cloth and buried within 24 hours.

Dupont said the soldiers who burned the bodies said they did so for hygiene reasons. However, Dupont said the incendiary messages later broadcast by the U.S. army psychological operations unit indicated they were aware that the cremation would be perceived as a desecration.

"They used that as a psychological warfare, I guess you'd call it. They used the fact that the Taliban were burned facing west (toward Mecca)," Dupont told SBS. "They deliberately wanted to incite that much anger from the Taliban so the Taliban could attack them ... . That's the only way they can find them."

Ameer Ali, the head of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (search), said burning a body would be considered a desecration in the Islamic faith.

The SBS report suggested the deliberate burning of bodies could violate the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of enemy remains in wartime. Under the Geneva Conventions, soldiers must ensure that the "dead are honorably interred, if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged."

Furthermore, the rules state that bodies should not be cremated, "except for imperative reasons of hygiene or for motives based on the religion of the deceased."
Ok, I know war is hell but really, this is a recipe on how to make yourselves hated beyond words. Nice, really fucking nice.