Canada says troops did not abuse Afghan prisoners

OTTAWA (Reuters) - An official inquiry into allegations that Canadian soldiers abused Afghan detainees has cleared the troops of all wrongdoing, military officials said on Tuesday.

Canada launched the probe in early 2007 after allegations that soldiers had abused three local men after taking them prisoner in April 2006 near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

“The board (of inquiry), composed of three senior Canadian Forces members, concluded that detainees were handled professionally and humanely by CF members with whom they were in contact, and that CF members acted consistently beyond reproach,” the Defense Department said in a statement.

The inquiry found that during the incident, troops had been forced to subdue one suspect who “sustained a number of visible, non-life threatening injuries”. He was bandaged and given a thorough medical examination.

Canada currently has around 2,700 soldiers on a combat mission in Afghanistan that is due to end in 2011.

Allegations of prisoner abuse are a touchy subject in Canada. In 1993, members of the Airborne Regiment, based in Somalia as part of a peacekeeping mission, tortured and beat to death a 16-year-old boy.

The regiment was disbanded and several members were subsequently convicted of crimes by courts-martial.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson