American forces in Afghanistan were braced for another backlash yesterday as photos emerged showing grinning US troops posing with the bloodied body parts of Afghan suicide bombers.
The Los Angeles Times said a soldier passed it 18 images taken in 2010 after the 82nd Airborne Division was dispatched on two occasions to investigate reports that Afghan police had recovered the remains of insurgents.
Two photographs were published on the LA Times website and in the newspaper, one showing what appears to be two US soldiers holding up two severed legs. The newspaper said other photographs showed a US soldier manipulating a corpse's hand to make it raise its middle finger, and another body with a sign saying "Zombie Hunter" placed next to it.
Even before the photographs were published yesterday, Nato was on the defensive, promising a full investigation. "The actions of the individuals photographed do not represent the policies of International Security Assistance Force or the US Army," US General John Allen, Nato's top commander in the country, said in a statement.
The images are the latest in a string of mis-steps and atrocities which have soured relations between Afghans and the Nato forces. In March, a US soldier walked off his base and killed 17 Afghan civilians. After Korans were burnt as rubbish at a Nato air base in February, a wave of retribution attacks left six soldiers dead. And in January, a video emerged of four US Marines urinating on the corpses of alleged insurgents.