German journalists witness Afghan and American soldiers involved in abusing prisoners

A German newsmagazine reported that two of its journalists embedded with troops from the U.S. witnessed Afghan and American soldiers involved in abusing prisoners.

The weekly Focus reported that, while on patrol with troops this month southwest of Kabul, reporter Wolfgang Bauer and photographer Karsten Schoene witnessed an incident they said amounted to torture.

Maj. Chris Belcher, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said the magazine report was the first he had heard of the allegations, and he would have to look into the matter before commenting.

Focus reported that, during the search of a village for Taliban fighters, a patrol reportedly led by an Afghan army "platoon leader" apprehended a suspect in a house.

When the suspect refused to talk, the magazine said, the platoon leader tied one end of a rope to the suspect's foot and the other end to a vehicle, then threatened to drag the man unless he told the truth.

Focus reported that the platoon leader then had an American soldier start the motor. The magazine printed a picture of what it said was the prisoner tied to the vehicle, with a soldier standing nearby.

After idling for two minutes, the vehicle's motor was shut off. The man was not dragged, the magazine reported, and the suspect was set free.

The U.S. soldier, a "fighter against terrorism, is suddenly, according to international law, a criminal. He carried out a fake execution. He tortured," Bauer wrote.

The magazine reported that, in another instance, American soldiers stood by while an Afghan "secret service man" punched a suspect with his fists and then hit him with the butt of his gun to try and obtain information.