- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

As many as 1,000 prisoners in Afghanistan may have died of asphyxiation in container trucks while being transferred by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance, according to U.N. and Afghan officials.
Those who died were among thousands of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces who had surrendered in Kunduz and were taken to prisons in overcrowded container trucks, witnesses told Newsweek magazine.
U.S. troops were aware of reports of container deaths, the magazine said. But the magazine found no evidence U.S. soldiers were involved or witnessed the deaths.
"I have read in news media about suspected mass graves, but I don't know anything about asphyxiation containers, or validated mass graves. I don't know if its true," U.S. Central Command spokesman Maj. John Robinson told AFP.
Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, emphasized that humanitarian relief is President Bush's first concern in Afghanistan.
"In our own treatment of detainees that have been detained during this war, have been treated humanely and with respect and with decency, all in accordance with and consistent with our international guidelines," Mr. Bartlett told ABC News. "It's important that we not rush to judgment, that we look at the facts."
The Red Cross and the United Nations both looked into reports of hundreds of dead Taliban prisoners buried in mass graves outside of Sheberghan prison in December, Newsweek said.
A U.N. report given to Newsweek said it found a site that "contains bodies of Taliban POW's who died of suffocation during transfer from Kunduz to Sheberghan."
"I can say with confidence that more than 1,000 people died in the containers," said Aziz ur Rahman Razekh, director of the Afghan Organization of Human Rights.

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