Given US special forces two weeks to withdraw ... Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Photo: AP
THE Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has given US special forces troops two weeks to withdraw completely from the key battleground province of Wardak, after it was alleged American troops had abused, tortured and even murdered civilians.
The order, which appears to have surprised American military leadership, will further strain fraying relations between the countries as the US prepares to withdraw combat troops by the end of next year.
Mr Karzai's chief spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said American abuses of civilians had caused ''public resentment and hatred''.
''We have received a plethora of complaints, with elders from Maidan Wardak giving President Karzai evidence [of] forces storming people's houses, torturing and killing the inmates,'' he said.
''A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force, and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, his tortured body with [his] throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.''
The student's alleged murder sparked protests on the streets of Wardak's capital, Maidan Shahar, this month.
The Afghan government said it had previously shared reports of atrocities with US commanders in Kabul, but they were rejected.
A spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan said: ''We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts.
''Until we have had a chance to speak with senior [Afghan] officials about this issue we are not in a position to comment further. This is an important issue that we intend to fully discuss with our Afghan counterparts.''
The Taliban remains active across Wardak, west of the capital, Kabul, and security has deteriorated significantly over the past year. US troops routinely carry out night raids on suspected militant hideouts, in an effort to stop insurgents reaching the capital.
This month Mr Karzai banned Afghan troops from seeking NATO air support after a US-led air raid killed 10 civilians, including women and children, in the east of the country.
NATO defence ministers agreed at a summit in Brussels at the weekend to keep between 8000 and 12,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the ''train, advise and assist'' mission after combat forces withdraw in 2014.