A US soldier murdered 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood after leaving his combat outpost in Panjwai district in Kandahar province last night. From the BBC:
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.
ISAF has released a statement from Lieutenant General Adrian Bradshaw, the deputy ISAF commander, on the attack:
In my role as in-theatre commander of ISAF in Gen. Allen’s temporary absence on duty, I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province. One of our soldiers is reported to have killed and injured a number of civilians in villages adjacent to his base. I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military activity. An investigation is already underway and every effort will be made to establish the facts and hold anyone responsible to account. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in this tragedy. I wish once again, on behalf of Gen. Allen and all members of ISAF, to convey our deep regrets and sorrow at this appalling incident.
Predictably, the Taliban have jumped all over this incident to score a propaganda coup, calling the killings “genocide” and claiming it was an intentional act by US troops and backed by the Afghan National Army. From the Voice of Jihad:
The so called American peace keepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province.
According to recent reports arriving from the area, the American invaders backed by their puppets (ANA) left their base last night (11/03/2012) and raided several homes of locals, located near their base in Balambi village of Panjwaee district.
Witnesses from the scene say that during the raids, the American terrorists and their puppets shot the household members at point blank range and so far 50 bodies have been found and recovered by the villagers among which, 11 are from the home of Muhammad Wazir including himself. The unsuspecting innocent victims have been sprayed with hundreds of bullets and have been cold-bloodedly martyred.
The villagers say that this genocidal act, carried out by Americans and their hireling ANA took place last night at around midnight, adding that due to tens of civilians taking shelter in safe houses to protect themselves from this horror, many bodies have not yet been found which could potentially increase the number of casualties.
In this night time operation, the barbaric American terrorists have also burnt down a number of homes of the ordinary people. Some news outlets have cited the Americans as saying that the casualties have been caused by airstrikes however the villagers categorically reject this claim and invite all to examine the victims who have either been shot or have been martyred by hand grenades hurled inside their rooms. Most of the victims are local villagers, women and children.
Alemara website is trying to gather the names of the victims and other details of this crime committed last night.
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