By Jessica Donati and Mirwais Harooni
KABUL (Reuters) - The United States and other aid donors should press Afghanistan to prosecute government and security force officials guilty of serious human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.
Holding powerful individuals accountable should be a top priority, the rights group said in a report, as impunity fuels support for the Taliban and raises concern about efforts to train and supply Afghanistan's security forces.
"The United States, which helped install numerous warlords and strongmen after the overthrow of the Taliban, should now lead an international effort to support the new government to remove serious human rights abusers from their ranks," said the group's deputy director for Asia, Phelim Kine.
The report entitled "Today We Shall All Die" (http://hrw.org/node/133014/) focuses on abuses committed in eight provinces and lists the police chief of Kandahar province as among those who should be prosecuted for extrajudicial killings.
Kandahar's police chief, General Abdul Raziq, told reporters last July he had ordered his men to kill "terrorists" and not take them prisoner because "they will be released anyway".
He later retracted the comments but other senior policemen echoed them and villagers say such killings continue.
A spokesman for Raziq denied the allegations in the report.
"War is war, and we kill Taliban during fights," said the spokesman.
"They also martyr (kill) our policemen, but I'm committed to Afghan law and never step beyond it," the spokesman cited Raziq as saying.
In another example cited by the rights group, a former commander of police in Uruzgan province who received U.S. support remains at large despite killing dozens of civilians.
A spokesman for Uruzgan's governor acknowledged the accusations but said the commander and his forces had left the province.
(Additional reporting by Sarwar Amani; Editing by Robert Birsel)