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.
U.S. Army soldiers with the 4th Battalion conduct a combined patrol in the village of Shabila Kalan, Zabul, Afghanistan
File photo: DoD
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."