Three British citizens just released from Guantanamo have said they almost died in November 2001 in a mass slaughter of prisoners by the Northern Alliance. Their story jibes with the findings of a forensic anthropologist who's investigated the deaths. The Observer reports:
...Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed, from Tipton in the West Midlands, told in their interviews how weeks before they were handed over to the Americans, they were captured by Northern Alliance forces led by General Abdurrashid Dostum in November 2001, as they tried to flee war-torn Afghanistan.
At Shebargan, they were herded into two of several truck containers. Then, Iqbal said, the doors were sealed. He and the others lost consciousness, and when he came to he was 'lying on top of dead bodies, breathing the stench of their blood and urine'.
'We lived because someone made holes with a machine gun, though they were shooting low, and still more died from the bullets. When we got out, about 20 in each container were still alive.' ...
The article quotes forensic anthropologist William Haglund and a colleague from a Physicians for Human Rights investigative team, John Heffernan.
...Heffernan said: 'After taking into account the thousands crowded into the dilapidated prison, the whereabouts of many taken captive remained unknown. We began to suspect some might have met their fate on the way there. After we left the prison and travelled down the road a few miles into the desert, we smelled the unmistakable odour of decaying flesh and soon found bulldozer tracks and skeletal remains.' Haglund came back under United Nations auspices a few months later.
By chance, on the day he arrived at Shebargan, Dostum had gone into the mountains, he said, leaving behind a military escort which allowed him to open the grave. 'I uncovered one small corner, exposing 15 remains which were quite complete, and did autopsies on three. There were no signs of trauma and these were all young men. This is consistent with death by asphyxiation.
'I told Dostum's security chief that they had died from suffocation, and there was this big silence hanging over the desert.' ...
The atrocities were reported at the time, you may recall. They didn't get much attention then and they're not getting much now.
(Observer link via INTL-News.)