U.S. Soldier Opens Fire On Afghan Civilians

March 11, 2012 by staff 

U.S. Soldier Opens Fire On Afghan Civilians, A U.S. service member walked out of a base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians, according to villagers and Afghan and NATO officials. Villagers showed an Associated Press photographer 15 bodies, including women and children, who they said were killed by the American.

The shooting could deepen strife between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts just as weeks of violence set off by the burning of Muslim holy books at a U.S. base had started to die down.

The burnings sparked violent protests and attacks that killed some 30 people. Six U.S. service members have been killed in attacks by their Afghan colleagues since the Quran burnings came to light.

NATO officials apologised for Sunday’s shootings.

“I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province, said a statement from Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, the deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“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 authorised ISAF military activity,” he said, using the abbreviation for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

NATO spokesman Justin Brockhoff said a U.S. service member had been detained at a NATO base as the alleged shooter. The casualties were evacuated to NATO medical facilities, he added.

The incident took place in two villages in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province. The villages – Balandi and Alkozai – are about 500 yards (meters) away from a U.S. base.

The shooting started around 3 a.m., said Asadullah Khalid, the government representative for southern Afghanistan and a member of the delegation that went to investigate the incident.

A resident of the village of Alkozai, Abdul Baqi, told the AP that, based on accounts of his neighbours, the American gunman went into three different houses and opened fire.

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