KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday condemned as “unforgivable” the slaughter of 16 villagers in their homes by a rogue American soldier.
“When Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action,” Karzai said in statement.
The US soldier was detained in Afghanistan for shooting and wounding several civilians in the southern province of Kandahar, a spokesman for the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) coalition said on Sunday.
"It was a shooting incident involving multiple civilians wounded," said the spokesman, Captain Justin Brockhoff, adding that there were no initial reports of deaths in the attack which took place on Sunday.
Civilian casualties have been a major source of friction between President Hamid Karzai's government and US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.
"US Forces-Afghanistan, in cooperation with Afghan authorities, will investigate this incident," Isaf said in a statement.
"This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved."
Kandahar Governor Tooryalai Wisa earlier told Reuters a US soldier left his base in Kandahar and opened fire on civilians. He said initial reports indicated up to 16 civilians were killed.
Anti-American sentiment is running high in Afghanistan and it may deepen if news of the shooting spreads.
Anger gripped the country after US soldiers burned a large number of copies of the Koran at a Nato base last month. Nato said it was a tragic blunder.
Thirty people were killed in protests and Afghan forces turned their weapons on US soldiers, killing six.
Isaf commander regrets incident
Lt Gen. Adrian J Bradshaw, deputy commander of the Isaf, has regretted the incident, saying he is deeply dismayed at the soldier’s action.
“I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorised Isaf military activity,” the statement, issued on Sunday, said. “An investigation has been started already and every effort will be made to establish facts and hold anyone responsible to account. Our thoughts and prayers are with those caught in this tragedy.
He conveyed regret and sorrow over the appalling incident on behalf of Isaf Commander General Allen and all members of the force.