Poland detains seven soldiers over Afghan deaths

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WARSAW, Nov 13 (Reuters) Polish authorities have detained seven soldiers in connection with an incident in which Afghan civilians were killed, the defence ministry said today.

Military prosecutors ordered the detentions accusing the soldiers of breaking the Hague and Geneva Conventions, which deal with war crimes and the treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war, the ministry said in a statement.

''Seven soldiers ... who were part of the international ISAF mission in Afghanistan have been detained,'' the statement said.

The prosecutor dealing with the case said charges would be presented tomorrow. The soldiers were detained in Poland.

A spokesman for the ministry told Polish television the soldiers were involved in an incident earlier this year when Polish troops killed several Afghan citizens in a clash with insurgents. ''The soldiers have been detained in connection with August's incident,'' Jaroslaw Rybak, the ministry's spokesman, told Polish television.

Civilian deaths are a sensitive issue for foreign forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. More than 370 civilians have been killed this year, aid workers and Afghan officials' estimates show.

Afghan and Western officials accuse the Taliban of deliberately courting civilian deaths by launching attacks from ordinary homes and carrying out indiscriminate bomb attacks.

Poland has more than 1,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.

REUTERS SKB BD1935

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