United States authorities have launched an investigation into 18 photos that show American soldiers posing with the corpses of Afghan insurgents. The Los Angeles Times said it obtained the photos from a soldier who wanted to put spotlight on “the safety risk of a breakdown in leadership and discipline.” The Times published two of the gruesome photos on Wednesday despite the military requesting the pictures not be released to the public. The pictures are believed to have been taken in 2010.
In one of the published photos the hand of a dead militant appears to rest on the shoulder of a smiling soldier. Another soldier leans over the body. The second picture shows American soldiers and Afghan police holding up the bloody, mangled legs of a suicide bomber. As for other pictures not released, The Los Angeles Times writes: “Two soldiers posed holding a dead man's hand with the middle finger raised. A soldier leaned over the bearded corpse while clutching the man's hand. Someone placed an unofficial platoon patch reading "Zombie Hunter" next to other remains and took a picture.”
The Times reports the soldiers involved belong to the 82nd Airborne Division. Seven of them were contacted by The Times, but none commented. Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Margaret Kageleiry said the majority of the soldiers in the photos have been identified.
"These images by no means represent the values or professionalism of the vast majority of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan today," Pentagon spokesman George Little said. "An investigation that could lead to disciplinary measures is under way. Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system."
This is not the first time American soldiers have treated corpses inappropriately. In January, a video surfaced online of four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three Taliban militants.
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