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Afghan report says reconciliation requires trials for past rights abuses

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Associated Press

ABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's top human rights official urged the country to confront the horrors of its past, saying Saturday that war crimes dating back more than 20 years should be prosecuted and rights abusers should be purged from public office.

In a step toward a national reconciliation drive that the U.S. military hopes will defuse a Taliban-led insurgency, Afghanistan's rights watchdog launched a report calling on the government to meet ordinary Afghans' "desire for justice."

"Proper attention has not been paid to a fundamental element of peace and stability," Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said in a statement. "We at the commission believe that it is impossible to achieve peace without justice."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed the report and said his new government was obliged to "treat the wounds of the Afghan people."

Some parts of the report "need to be studied very deeply," he said after Samar and the top U.N. rights envoy presented it to him in his Kabul palace. "But generally this report is acceptable and I accept it, and to maintain social justice for the people we will work on it."

Meanwhile, a land mine exploded near a pickup truck carrying Afghan soldiers close to the Pakistani border on Saturday, killing nine soldiers and seriously wounding another, an Afghan commander said, one of the bloodiest attacks in months.

Elsewhere, an Afghan border guard was killed when a gunman opened fire on a car at an illegal checkpoint in the southeast, police said. The gunman also was fatally shot.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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