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Can't recall 'inappropriate conduct' during Taliban fight: Afghan general

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - An Afghan army general who was on hand for October's bloody battle of Lashkar Gah said Thursday he has heard none of the allegations of "inappropriate conduct" surrounding the death of a presumed Taliban insurgent.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - An Afghan army general who was on hand for October's bloody battle of Lashkar Gah said Thursday he has heard none of the allegations of "inappropriate conduct" surrounding the death of a presumed Taliban insurgent.

Afghan National Army troops killed so many Taliban fighters during the defence of Helmand province's capital city two months ago, it's impossible to say how they all died, Gen. Sher Muhammad Zazai said in an interview.

Afghan and NATO officials claimed at least 100 Taliban died in the three days of fighting, in which insurgents mounted a three-pronged attack on the city that ended Oct. 18.

"I don't know of any inappropriate way that Taliban were killed," Zazai said through an interpreter.

"So many were killed, I don't remember the exact way they were (all) killed."

The major crimes unit of Canada's military police is investigating a death that took place "on or about" Oct. 19 in Helmand - the day after the Lashkar Gah seige came to an end.

The deputy commander of NATO forces in Kandahar province, Col. Jamie Cade, said he learned Dec. 27 of the allegations. Few details have been released.

Cade said the military probe announced Wednesday will seek "to determine whether proper reporting procedures were followed" in the death of a "presumed" Taliban insurgent.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, the unit that examines all incidents involving Canadian military personnel or property in Canada and abroad, is conducting the probe, Cade said.

Afghan soldiers in Helmand for the Lashkar Gah mission were being supervised by Canadian military mentors and were backed up by British forces. Zazai has said Canadians were also involved in the fighting.

Afghan and foreign troops eventually retook the Nad Ali district centre, which had been held by insurgents, after a three-day fight. That battle, which also involved air strikes, ended Oct. 18.

A Taliban spokesman denied any insurgents died in the battle. However, it is common for the Taliban to deny combat casualties.

Helmand province, just west of Kandahar, is a lawless and Taliban-heavy region of southern Afghanistan that's largely been the domain of the British NATO contingent.

-with files from A.R. Khan

 
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