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Coalition tries to ease Afghan angst

KABUL — The US-led coalition in Afghanistan said Monday it has found no evidence to support allegations that American special forces were involved in the abuse of Afghan civilians in a restive eastern province that serves as a gateway to Kabul.

The statement came as the Afghan government moved ahead with an order to expel the special forces from Wardak province within two weeks, undeterred by fears the decision could leave the area and the neighboring capital more vulnerable to Al Qaeda and other insurgents.

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Provincial officials and analysts expressed concern the province could become more unstable without the American firepower, although they agreed with President Hamid Karzai’s decision to investigate the allegations.

Karzai issued the order on Sunday after a meeting of the National Security Council at which Wardak’s provincial governor, Abdul Majid Khogyani, and other local officials blamed Afghans working with US special forces for the disappearance of at least nine men and the murder of an Afghan university student. The US forces are being expelled because of their association with the Afghan groups.

Khogyani and the other officials also alleged that the Afghans working for the American special forces were involved in abusive behavior including torture, killings, and illegal detentions.

German General Gunter Katz, a coalition spokesman, said the International Security Assistance Force found no evidence showing foreign forces were involved in abuses, but he did not comment on the Afghans allegedly linked to the Americans.

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