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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — The United States government on Thursday announced it has launched an investigation into a YouTube video which shows U.S. soldiers urinating on the bodies of Afghans.
The 34-second video was uploaded to video-sharing website YouTube on Wednesday and appears to show four U.S. Marines, uniformed and equipped with combat gear, urinating on the bodies of three people, believed to be dead Taliban fighters.
About 20 seconds into the video, one of the Marines can be heard saying, “have a great day, buddy,” apparently in a reference to one of the dead Taliban fighters. Another Marine then asks if a fifth person, filming the incident, got it on video. “Yup,” he responds as another Marine is heard saying: “Golden, like a shower.”
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) strongly condemned the actions depicted in the video, stating that the “disrespectful act is inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces.”
The statement noted that the actions which appear in the video were conducted by a small group of Americans who are believed to be no longer serving in Afghanistan. “Nevertheless, this behavior dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every service member representing the fifty nations of the coalition,” the ISAF said.
ISAF said a U.S. Criminal Investigatory agency has launched an investigation into the video, but gave no other details. “[The investigation] will be thorough and any individuals with confirmed involvement will be held fully accountable,” the alliance said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Marine Corps said its headquarters had been made aware of the video. “While we have not yet verified the origin or authenticity of this video, the actions portrayed are not consistent with our core values and are not indicative of the character of the Marines in our Corps. This matter will be fully investigated,” a statement said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai also denounced the act, saying he was deeply disturbed by the video. He went on to describe the actions shown in the video as ‘inhuman and condemnable.’ He also called for an investigation into the incident and punishment for those found responsible of the actions.
“We expressly ask the U.S. government to urgently investigate the video and apply the most severe punishment to anyone found guilty in this crime,” Karzai said in a statement released by his office.
It was not immediately clear who appears in the video, who captured it and who posted it online, but it quickly received widespread attention and triggered protests in Kabul, the Afghan capital, as well as in Kandahar. The demonstrators accused the U.S. Marines of committing serious crimes.
The Taliban also criticized the video, describing it as ‘barbaric’ and questioning all of the other actions carried out during the past ten years that have not been captured on video and gone public through the media. “No religion that follows a holy text would accept such conduct,” it said in a statement.
The release of the video comes just days after an Afghan commission set up by Karzai claimed that American forces have ‘abused and tortured’ numerous prisoners at Afghanistan’s main prison, Bagram prison in Parwan Province. A U.S. embassy spokesman said it took the allegations seriously and said it investigates all allegations of detainee abuse.