US soldier kills up to 16 Afghan civilians in shooting spree
Up to 16 civilians, including nine children and three women, have been killed by a rogue American soldier in Kandahar province, Afghan and Nato sources say.
The murders happened at night-time.
The soldier left his base in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, he broke into a compound just a few hundred metres from the base and killed eleven members of one family. He sprayed them with bullets for no apparent reason, villager Ustad Abdul Halim said
After killing eleven people in the first house, the US soldier went into two more houses and opened fire again. Apparently, a total of 15 to 16 Afghan civilians lost their life.
“We don’t know why he killed people,” said
one villager, “there was no fighting or attacks.”
The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, immediately condemned
the "intentional murders" and demanded an explanation from the US.
The American Embassy in Kabul replied with a statement
urging calm. “We are saddened by this violent act against our Afghan friends,” the statement added.
The New York Times
writes that "the shooting risks further inciting anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan and troubling a relationship that had already been brought to a new low by the burning of Korans at an American military base last month."
The Koran burning incident
sparked a series of anti-American protests.
"The US embassy in Kabul is warning of possible anti-American reprisals," world affairs correspondent for the BBC News Mike Wooldridge reported
BBC correspondent in Kabul Quentin Sommerville reports
a former US diplomat saying: "if you're an Afghan, you've seen a Florida pastor try to burn a Koran, then marines urinating on dead Taliban soldiers
, then burning of the Koran, and now this all within 10 months. We don't have the benefit of the doubt. Time for us to get out of there."