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U.S. investigates Afghan abuse claim

Military Bases
U.S. Army

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The U.S. military has launched an investigation into the suspected mistreatment of an Afghan police officer while in the custody of coalition forces.

The officer says he was stripped naked, photographed, kicked and subjected to sexual taunting while being held by coalition forces in August last year, a U.S. Embassy statement said on Wednesday.

News of the alleged abuse came through "press channels," the embassy said.

The incident reportedly took place in August 2003 while the police officer was held by coalition forces in Gardez and Bagram. He was later released.

The U.S.-occupied Bagram air base was one of the places where suspected al Qaeda fighters in the Afghan war were held and interrogated.

Coalition leaders were notified of the allegations on Tuesday, and immediately launched an investigation, U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Tucker Mansager said.

"Certainly there is a lot more focus on the issue at this point in time due to what's come to light in Iraq," Mansager said, referring to investigations into alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq at the hands of the U.S. military.

"But we will continue to investigate as we always have, very thoroughly and very seriously, any of these allegations."

According to the embassy statement, the officer said he was stripped naked, photographed, kicked and subjected to sexual taunting during his incarceration before being released.

"To the best of our knowledge this is the first time anyone in the military chain of command or the United States Embassy has heard of this alleged mistreatment," said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

"We are not aware of the existence of any photos of the alleged incident."

The embassy statement said appropriate action will be taken, if the allegations turn out to be true.

The U.S. military is already investigating cases of alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq at the hands of American forces.

Pictures of Iraqi detainees being mistreated by U.S. forces has sparked condemnation around the world.

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