Afghan war crimes amnesty passed

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The upper house of the Afghan parliament has passed a controversial bill giving amnesty to people accused of war crimes over the past 30 years.

Both houses have now backed the bill. It has yet to be signed by President Hamid Karzai, who could veto it.

Many atrocities were committed under Soviet rule, as well as by mujahideen leaders who fought a civil war and finally by the Taleban.

Many victims have reacted angrily to the idea of an amnesty.

Some MPs in the lower house, which passed the bill last month, now say they did not understand its implications when they voted for it.

Supporters of the amnesty say it is a move towards reconciliation. They say if it does not happen there will be more war.

President Karzai is known to be opposed to the bill.

In the warlord period some 80,000 civilians died in Kabul alone. Large numbers of others were kidnapped, mutilated or raped.

The United Nations and Afghan's leading rights groups say only victims of war crimes can forgive the perpetrators.