July 26th, 2010
08:14 PM ET

WikiLeaks shines spotlight on mysterious Task Force 373

U.S. military documents released by WikiLeaks show that a U.S. Special Forces unit in Afghanistan assigned to hunt down terrorists also was responsible for the deaths of civilians, Afghan police officers and, in one particularly bloody raid, seven children while they attended school.

The unit is called Task Force 373. It’s assigned to kill so-called “high value” targets or detain them without trial, often in night operations. The 373 follows a hit list of sorts, according to The New York Times and The Guardian newspaper in England. (WikiLeaks gave The New York Times, The Guardian and German magazine Der Spiegel early access to the documents before posting them.)

The list is referred to as Jpel, which supposedly stands for “joint prioritized effects list.”  Der Spiegel reported in January that the Task Force was active in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan.

“U.S. special forces with Task Force 373 are sent out on operations on a nightly basis,” it wrote. “In addition to taking suspected Taliban extremists prisoner, they have many times been responsible for eliminating wanted Taliban leaders.”

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