March 11th, 2012
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, condemned the shootings as “intentional murders” and demanded an explanation from the US.
The victims of the shootings, which left up to 16 civilians dead, included nine children and three women, Karzai’s office said in a statement.
“This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,” Karzai said. He said he has repeatedly demanded the US stop killing Afghan civilians.
The White House said it was deeply concerned by initial reports of the incident and was monitoring the situation closely.
General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, issued a statement pledging a “rapid and thorough investigation” into the shooting spree, and said the soldier will remain in US custody.
Eleven members of one family who lived just a few hundred metres from the soldier’s base in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province were killed when he broke into their compound after 3am and sprayed it with bullets, villager Ustad Abdul Halim said.
The father of the family, Wazir, and one child survived only because they were away from their home.
“Wazir and his young son were in Boldak district when it happened,” Halim said by phone from the village, where survivors and government officials from nearby Kandahar city gathered to bury the dead.
The attacks took place in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai, and the US soldier went into three different houses and opened fire, Associated Press reported. The area is a former Taliban stronghold that has seen years of heavy fighting between insurgents and coalition forces.
It is not the first time US soldiers have intentionally killed Afghan civilians but the death toll is unprecedented for a single soldier. The soldier, who the Nato-led coalition said was arrested after the assault, appears to have made no attempt to cover up the shootings.
Related: NewsRescue-US soldiers killed Afghans for sport and collected fingers as trophies
Allen, in his statement, offered his regret and “deepest condolences” to the Afghan people and vowed that he will make sure that “anyone who is found to have committed wrong-doing is held fully accountable”.
“This deeply appalling incident in no way represents the values of [the International Security Assistance Force] and coalition troops or the abiding respect we feel for the Afghan people,” said Allen. “Nor does it impugn or diminish the spirit of cooperation and partnership we have worked so hard to foster with the Afghan National Security Forces.”
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said that President Barack Obama was briefed on the shooting incident. She said, “we are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident, and are monitoring the situation closely.”
Anti-foreigner sentiment is already running high in Afghanistan after US troops burned copies of the Qur’an and sparked days of deadly protests. The burnings sparked violent protests and attacks that killed some 30 people. Six US service members have been killed in attacks by their Afghan colleagues since the Qur’an burnings came to light.
Sunday’s killings risk rekindling that anger.
The coalition’s deputy commander, Adrian Bradshaw, acknowledged there had been deaths, although he did not give a number.
“I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorised ISAF military activity,” he said in a statement. “An investigation is already under way and every effort will be made to establish the facts and hold anyone responsible to account.”
Photographers at the burials saw the bodies of at least 15 bodies riddled with bullets. Halim put the death toll at 16, with others who were injured receiving treatment in a Nato military hospital.
Halim and another man from the village, Haji Satar Khan, said four people from the family of Fahed Jan, and one child from another family died in addition to the 11 members of Wazir’s family.
The killings sparked a demonstration in the district, prompting the US embassy to warn residents and travellers in Kandahar to exercise caution.
Mokhtar Amiri contributed to this report
‘US forces burned bodies of Afghans after massacre’
PressTv- Afghan eyewitnesses say US troopers have burnt nearly a dozen bodies of the Afghan victims, whom American servicemen had killed during an earlier massacre.
The US-led invasion of Afghanistan was launched in 2001. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence there of tens of thousands of US-led troops.
‘Several drunk troops behind bloodbath, laughed on shooting-spree, burned corpses’
Published: 12 March, 2012, 16:54
A villager points to a spot where a family was allegedly shot in their residence by a rogue US soldier in Alkozai village of Panjwayi district, Kandahar province on March 11, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mamoon Durrani)
Gruesome new details are surfacing after 16 Afghan villagers including nine children were shot in their houses by at least one US serviceman. Witnesses to the atrocity now say that several drunken American soldiers were involved.Neighbors at the village where the killings took place said they were awoken past midnight by crackling gunfire:
“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” Reuters cites Agha Lala, a villager in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district.
Lala’s neighbor Haji Samad lost all of his 11 relatives in the rampage, including children and grandchildren. He claims Marines “poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them.”
Twenty-year-old Jan Agha says the gunfire “shook him out of bed.” He was in the epicenter of the horrible shooting, witnessing his father shot as the latter peered out of a window to see what was going on.
“The Americans stayed in our house for a while. I was very scared,” the young man told reporters.
Lying on a floor, Agha says, he pretended to be dead.
He added that his brother was shot in his head and chest. His sister was killed as well. “My mother was shot in her eye and her face. She was unrecognizable,” he said.
A preliminary official report says the alleged unnamed culprit acted alone and is now in custody after turning himself in at an American base.
A senior US defense official in Washington blasted witness accounts that several apparently drunk soldiers were involved as “flatly wrong.”
The Afghan parliament said the incident was barbaric and demanded justice. Both NATO and US officials condemned the violence, promising a swift investigation.
US troops in Afghanistan have been put on high alert as the Taliban has issued a threat vowing “to take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr.”
The statement published on the group’s website said that the US is “arming lunatics in Afghanistan who turn their weapons against the defenseless Afghans.”
Afghan officials, fearing possible violent demonstrations, have deployed extra police and troops in and around Kandahar.
The incident was one of the worst of its kind since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It comes just weeks after Korans were burned at a US military base, which provoked mass riots in Afghanistan.