U.S. soldier murders 16 civilians in Afghanistan

<img src="afghanistan.jpg" alt="U.S. soldier murders 16 civilians in Afghanistan">

A US soldier in Afghanistan has killed at least 16 civilians and wounded five after entering their homes in Kandahar province, senior local officials say.

He left his military base in the early hours of the morning and opened fire in at least two homes; women and children were among the dead.

Nato said it was investigating the “deeply regrettable incident”.

Anti-US sentiment is already high in Afghanistan after US soldiers burnt copies of the Koran last month.

US officials have apologized repeatedly for the incident at a NATO base in Kabul, but they failed to quell a series of protests and attacks that killed at least 30 people and six US troops.

Local people have reportedly gathered near the base in Panjwai district to protest about Sunday’s killings, and the US embassy is advising against travel to the area.

Lt Gen Adrian Bradshaw, deputy commander of NATO-led forces, said he was unable to “explain the motivation behind such callous acts”, adding that “our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in this tragedy”.

The soldier has not been named, but is thought to be a staff sergeant.

He is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday) and headed to nearby villages, moving methodically from house to house.

“Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,” Haji Samad, an elder from Najeeban village, told the AFP news agency.

Haji Sayed Jan, from Alkozai village, was quoted by the AFP as saying: “My home was attacked and I lost four family members”.

A delegation from the provincial governor’s office has arrived in the village to determine exactly what happened, a spokesman said.

The soldier – who had reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks – is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement that US officials in Afghanistan would work with their Afghan counterparts to investigate what happened.

This is the first time Afghan civilians have been targeted by foreign soldiers in this way, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville reports from Kabul.

However, a US soldier was convicted last year on three counts of premeditated murder after leading a rogue “kill team” in Afghanistan.

Before Sunday’s killings, relations between international forces and the Afghan people were already at an all-time low following the accidental burning of the Koran by US soldiers last month, our correspondent adds.

A senior Afghan intelligence official called the latest attack a “propaganda victory for the Taliban”.

Kandahar is the Taliban’s spiritual heartland and is considered strategically important because of its international airport, its agricultural and industrial output and its position as one of the country’s main trading hubs.

The province has seen heavy fighting between NATO and Taliban forces over the last five years.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a speech on Sunday that his government still expects to sign a strategic partnership with the United States in the next couple of months.

In a televised speech, he said discussions would continue on the precise role the US will play in Afghanistan after NATO hands over security responsibility to Kabul at the end of 2014.

On Friday, Kabul and Washington reached a deal to transfer US-run prisons in the country to Afghan control.

Are you in Kandahar province? Have you been affected by this story? Send us your comments using the form below.

Story from the BBC.

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Posted by on March 11, 2012. Filed under NEWS I FIND INTERESTING. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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5 Responses to U.S. soldier murders 16 civilians in Afghanistan

  1. Dave Wren Reply

    March 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Shameful. Just shameful.

  2. Jim Smith Reply

    March 11, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Tell it like it is. Everyone there is a civilian, even the Taliban.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      March 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      You make a valid point Jim, but I doubt the Taliban recruits young children to sleep in the beds next to their families so they can be killed by soldiers.

      • Erin Nanasi Reply

        March 12, 2012 at 8:22 am

        This is inevitable. We leave these men and women in Hell for 10+ years, they are surrounded by death and blood and violence, what do we expect? Angels and saints? We will continue to have more of these events, tragic for so many, unless we get out of Afghanistan. Do it differently than last time, I hope, but since we already helped create the Taliban, maybe we don’t even need to do that. This is grief almost too large to manage.

  3. Jim Smith Reply

    March 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Michael, your comment is true except for the fact that the insurgents use women and children in their effort to kill anyone and everyone. Still, your point is well taken.

    Erin, I couldn’t agree with you more. We were pulled into a war as the good guy, such as Nam, and we end up being the bad guy. It doesn’t seem to matter what the insurgent’s do, nobody complains. The Soldier has spent 4 tours in the past 8(?) years. I’m surprised more of our soldiers haven’t gone off the deep end.

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