Nato soldiers on rampage: 16 civilians mowed down in Kandahar

Nine children among victims; Obama offers condolence, promises probe.

Agencies March 12, 2012

KANDAHAR: Western troops shot dead 16 civilians, including nine children, in Kandahar province on Sunday, Afghan officials said, in a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by Americans who were laughing and appeared drunk.

One Afghan father who said his children were killed in the spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies.

Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of US soldiers at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at 2am enter homes and open fire. However, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force called it an individual act and said it had arrested the suspected soldier.

The incident, one of the worst of its kind since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is likely to deepen the divide between Washington and Kabul. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta assured President Hamid Karzai in a phone call that a ‘full investigation’ was under way into the incident.

“A suspect is in custody, and I gave President Karzai my assurances that we will bring those responsible to justice,” Panetta said.

US President Barack Obama expressed deep sadness at the “tragic and shocking” act and offered his condolences. “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan,” the president said, offering his full backing for the US investigation “to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible.”

The rampage incensed President Karzai who denounced it as ‘intentional murders’ and demanded an explanation from the US.

Haji Samad said 11 of his relatives were killed in one home, including his children. Pictures showed blood-splattered where the children were killed. “They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” a weeping Samad told Reuters at the scene.

“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said Samad, who had left the home earlier.  Neighbours said they awoke to crackling gunfire from soldiers, whom they described as laughing and drunk.

“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where the shooting took place. “Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”

The Taliban condemned the rampage as ‘barbarianism’ and ‘savagery’ and vowed revenge.

In a statement, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that “American invaders backed by their puppets (Afghan soldiers) raided several homes near their base in Balambi village of Panjwaee district.” They shot the victims at point blank range and “so far 50 bodies have been found and recovered by the villagers, including 11 from one home”, he added. “The American soldiers also burnt down a number of houses of local villagers.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2012.


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Nobody | 9 years ago | Reply

@Ali Tanoli: I live in the US and yes many TV channels have shown this atrocious act and have admitted it was an American solider who will be held responsible for his heinous and inexcusable crime. Hope he fries for it.

Tony C. | 9 years ago | Reply

After reading comments from other parts of the world I now realize that a possible cover up is taking place in Kandahar. Apparently it is standard police procedure to carry out ballistic tests to determine if a particular gun fired the bullet or bullets found in a dead person. In the Kandahar case many people were killed so it would be a reasonably simple procedure for the police forensic personnel to determine if the same gun killed all the people. It would appear that this procedure has not been carried out yet, because I am reasonably sure that the American military would be only too glad to let the world know that they have the forensic proof. Although I am not familiar with American prosecution procedures, I think we can be certain that they would be unable to have the lone soldier found guilty of any charges related to the Kandahar incident without the necessary forensic proof from ballistics. Even if the soldier pleads guilty I would think that his lawyer would be obliged to ask the prosecution legal people for their proof.

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