KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said Monday it has found no evidence to support allegations that American special forces were involved in the abuse of Afghan civilians in a restive eastern province that serves as a gateway to Kabul.
The statement came as the Afghan government moved ahead with an order to expel the special forces from Wardak province within two weeks, undeterred by fears the decision could leave the area and the neighboring capital more vulnerable to al-Qaida and other insurgents.
Provincial officials and analysts expressed concern the already dangerous province could become more unstable without the American firepower, although they agreed with President Hamid Karzai's decision to investigate the allegations.
Karzai issued the order on Sunday after a meeting of the National Security Council at which Wardak provincial governor Abdul Majid Khogyani and other local officials blamed Afghans working with U.S. special forces for the disappearance of at least nine men and the murder of an Afghan university student. The U.S. forces are being expelled because of their association with the Afghan groups.
Khogyani and the other officials also alleged that the Afghans working for the American special forces were involved in abusive behavior including torture, killings and illegal detentions.
The armed Afghans are not part of the Afghan security forces, the government has said, implying that they are members of secret militias working with the Americans.
Coalition spokesman German Gen. Gunter Katz said the International Security Assistance Force found no evidence showing foreign forces were involved in abuses, but he did not comment on the Afghans allegedly linked to the Americans.
"We take all allegations of misconduct seriously and go to great lengths to determine the facts surrounding them," Katz told reporters. "Over the past few weeks there have been various allegations of special forces conducting themselves in an unprofessional manner" in Wardak.
He added that "so far, we could not find evidence that would support these allegations."