WASHINGTON (AFP/Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s demand that US special forces leave a flashpoint province came as a surprise to American commanders, who had no advance warning of the order, officials said Monday.

It remained unclear what led Karzai to issue a blunt announcement that US special operations force would have two weeks to withdraw from Wardak, a key province southwest of the capital Kabul, two US officials said.

“We’re not aware of any incident that would have generated this kind of response,” one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

In his statement Sunday, Karzai alleged that Afghans working with US forces had tortured and murdered people targeted in Wardak, triggering local outrage.

The Pentagon confirmed that a special panel of Afghan officials and officers from the Nato-led International Security Assistance Fore (ISAF) are looking into Karzai’s allegations. “There has been a joint commission established by ISAF and the government of Afghanistan to look into the issues that surfaced over the weekend,” spokesman George Little told reporters.

“We’re trying to seek clarity from the government of Afghanistan.”

Asked if the United States would withdraw its elite special operations units from the province, Little said: “It’s premature to speculate on what the outcome of what our discussions would be.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that complaints against Afghans working for US special forces in Afghanistan would be investigated

“With respect to Afghanistan and Wardak province, I understand the concerns that they have expressed. And appropriately, any complaints that they may have ought to be appropriately evaluated, and they will be, I can assure you,” Kerry told reporters during a visit to London.

Kerry said it was up to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to investigate. On Sunday ISAF said it was aware of the allegations of misconduct but would not comment further until it had spoken to Afghan officials.

Kerry said Karzai had “many legitimate evaluations” of where things have gone wrong or could be improved but indicated that negotiations on transition and an agreement on the presence of some US troops in Afghanistan after 2014 were going well.

“We’re working on a bilateral security arrangement; we’re working on this transition process. We’ve had a very good conversation with the President (Karzai) in the last days,” Kerry said.

Wardak is a deeply troubled flashpoint where a Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban in August 2011, killing eight Afghans and 30 Americans. It was the deadliest single incident for American troops in the entire war.

Karzai has had a troubled relationship with Washington for years and in the past he has often publicly expressed anger after errant US air strikes killed Afghan civilians.

Analysts said Karzai’s move conveyed Kabul’s growing distrust of Nato and its desire to impose their authority over local militia, who are trained by US forces but operate independently in the war against the Taliban.