Nato soldiers on rampage: 16 civilians mowed down in Kandahar

Published: March 12, 2012
ISAF says, US Forces-Afghanistan, in cooperation with Afghan authorities, will investigate this incident. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISAF says, US Forces-Afghanistan, in cooperation with Afghan authorities, will investigate this incident. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

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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Reader Comments (59)

  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:02AM

    No american t.v chanel gonna show this act of terror on innocent children and no one will say
    this is part of american army in iraq and in afghanistan.
    why when get killed by some others is not terrorism ???Recommend

  • zalim singh
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:14AM

    i guess stress


  • vasan
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:31AM

    This is just atrocious. Karzai should demand the NATO culprits to be handed over to the Afghan govt for trial and punishment. US/NATO army cannot be the culprit, jury and the judge all in one.


  • MarkH
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:37AM

    I read somewhere else it was one soldier.
    Either way, it certainly wasn’t ordered so they’re criminals plain and simple. The biggest difference from the critics and soon to be critics are that some punishment will actually befall them even if it is the military.
    As long as that happens it’s not a reflection of the military as a whole and it will.


  • MyHeartSpeaks
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:00AM

    Who’s terrorist here??


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:12AM

    Very sad incident. Afghanistan is a place where its very hard to remain normal.


  • Basit
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:43AM

    ISI is involved of course.


  • Mar 12, 2012 - 7:45AM

    Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Lillahe Rajeon.

    Stress and frustration coupled with racial hatred is what took place here.

    The NATO and ISAF commanders have to be more careful in allocating duties to their troops. Proper day/night rosters and psychiatric analysis of the troops is necessary over here.

    Salams to Afghanistan


  • Pakistani
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:47AM

    And they say they will get justice..HA HA ..very funny..heard that thousand times before..


  • Mirza
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:47AM

    Let us all condemn this brutal slaughter of innocent civilians. The longer the armies stay in public the more such things would happen. The US must pull out of that region ASAP. To the surprise of right-wingers I am on record against all the killing of innocent civilians by all armies.


  • M. A. Changezi
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:52AM

    Get ready for the retaliation then.


  • JA
    Mar 12, 2012 - 8:07AM

    Barbarism in American mindset is now becoming clear


  • Mumbai Dude
    Mar 12, 2012 - 8:44AM

    Maybe they were Taliban mullahs disguised as Americans. US forces are a professional force. They can’t do that.


  • John B
    Mar 12, 2012 - 9:06AM

    Stress is no excuse; It is not the code of conduct and the bad apples should be taken out.

    What was Afghan soldiers doing with the drunken American soldier and why did they not stop him?


  • usman
    Mar 12, 2012 - 9:14AM

    This is called barbarism! War crimes are to happen in an area under army control.


  • Haq B.
    Mar 12, 2012 - 9:43AM

    Time to go home America, before you completely loose your face.
    It happens to humans every where__ you “become” the one you just killed!
    Unless you tell yourself everyday with a morning prayer of faith why you are going to killing another human today and ask honestly the forgiveness from the creator, you will “loose-your-mind” from the act in the end, if not sooner. History have seen warriors or soldiers later lost all respect for humankind, also they could not tell the difference between killing in dream or in reality. Any intoxication by such person is lethal for all. Such is the outcome of bloodletting of any human, for any reason whatsoever.


  • Afghan Karachite
    Mar 12, 2012 - 9:48AM

    Every single “foreigner” soldier in Afghanistan has a strong discreet resentment towards Afghans and Muslims, however, they fear to express it due to their strict military rules and regulations.
    They call it the battle stress and inter-war trauma which creates feelings of hatred and antipathy towards Afghans when they see their comrades being killed and wounded by these Afghans (Taliban).
    These young soldiers see a hidden Taliban in every single civilian Afghan (as the people see a hidden Infidel in every single soldier) they come across during their foot patrol in these rural areas. Their weapons are loaded, fingers on the trigger, eyes on “target” and could shoot anyone just, when their minds tell them to do so. And, later on they could have a lot of excuse to come up with: self-defence, suspicious behavior of the victim, not stopping and thousands more.


  • Raj - USA
    Mar 12, 2012 - 10:08AM


    Agree with you totally. Not only the killings but the later acts like pouring chemicals on the dead bodies is atrocious.


  • Nasir
    Mar 12, 2012 - 10:10AM

    Whenever there is killing of innocent people from US/ NATO, that is always Friendly Fire, Individual Act, Mistake, etc. etc. Can any American tell me what is the meaning of Terrorism when civilian life is in danger with occupied forces.


  • Saad
    Mar 12, 2012 - 10:11AM

    This the hatred against Muslims of Afghanistan which these US soldiers spelled out. I think this time Afghanistan needs an outside intervention on humanitarian grounds to get rid the people of Afghanistan of the savage, barbaric and cruel US occupation. And it is in no way different than the Soviet Occupation which the America opposed.


  • well-wisher
    Mar 12, 2012 - 10:20AM

    This incidence reminds of massacre at My Lai village in Vietnam in 1968, where 30 American soldiers killed 504 villagers which included women and children. US tried to hide this incident for more than six months until one of its soldier brought it to the notice of the military authorities and media and inquiry subsequently conducted brought out that 347 unarmed people were killed by the soldiers. US is again trying to hide the facts by stating that only one soldier was involved whereas the villagers are stating otherwise that number of soldiers carried out this massacre including burning of their homes. This massacre comes after the incidence of Kuran burning by the US soldiers which would have more damning effect upon the ongoing war outcome against Taleban. US lost the Vietnam war and one more debacle is on the cards to add to its kitty of many ventures the Super-Power undertook so far in its chequered history.


  • Raza M
    Mar 12, 2012 - 10:35AM

    I strongly condemn this atrocious act by US Military. Let’s hope the culprits get the punishment that they deserve in this world; the punishment in the hereafter must surely be tormenting. Allah knows best!


  • Noor Muhammad
    Mar 12, 2012 - 11:05AM

    Sad day.

    Intelligent headline…..

    Keep USA/America (the brand) out of such “ugly news” :-), but if a Pakistani does such a thing, mention it explicitly.

    Get back to senses ET!!


  • daredevil
    Mar 12, 2012 - 11:18AM

    The true face of the rescuer and the liberal, democratic world behind it.


  • Shehryar
    Mar 12, 2012 - 11:59AM

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

    Classic case of the pot calling the kettle black..


  • Chill
    Mar 12, 2012 - 12:18PM

    Can anyone tell me how many US Soldiers punished in recent decade after killing millions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan??? On the other hand Dr. Afia was given severe sentence for a crime she never committed. Thanks to our media who still pose US as saint.

    We don’t need these drunk soldiers in this region, they are here after minerals of Pakistan and Afghanistan and have no respect of Human rights.


  • Ghaznavi
    Mar 12, 2012 - 12:30PM

    This is one way top WIN ‘hearts and minds’ of Afghans, Bravo USA!! I guess ‘liberal’ people who favor drone attacks will condone this as well…


  • Pollack
    Mar 12, 2012 - 1:23PM

    War is nasty business. Countries and societies should be careful not to provoke wars. If they do, they will have to face unpleasant and unavoidable consequences like this. All of this need not have happened if the Taliban had not given sanctuary to that Arab Osama who in turn commited atrocities on American soil on 911. It’s all just needless, pointless idiocy. It just shows that humanity does not learn from its past mistakes. Take JUD’s Hafeez saeed for instance….


  • some one
    Mar 12, 2012 - 2:25PM

    The worst of creation has massacred the best of creation…where are the human rights organisations sleeping now? Oh I forgot, the muslims are not considered as Humans by the barbaric Americans, so no rights for muslims. They love their animals (Dogs and Cats) but they kill muslim humans. Ya Allah, you are our only helper. Ya Allah, we do not ask any humanbeing to help us, we just need Allah’s help. I am sure of Allah’s wrath on these barbarians- definitely in the hereafter, even if they are awarded by their military bosses in this world.


  • anwar
    Mar 12, 2012 - 3:16PM

    time to give equivalent lethal force to the Taliban


  • Mehdi
    Mar 12, 2012 - 4:17PM

    I guess the way you treat each other is the way you get treated by others.


  • Tony C.
    Mar 12, 2012 - 4:52PM

    It’s amazing isn’t it? A few Westerners get killed as in 9/11 and the U.S. rampages around the world looking for revenge on an indefinite time-table. So far, about one and a half million people, which works out at 5,000 to 1 and counting, have been killed, but when innocent Muslim men women and children are killed it is all forgotten after a few days. Why the Muslim world puts up with it, and also allows the West to pick off Muslim countries one by one is beyond belief.


  • Sonya
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:01PM

    The soldiers on ground wanted an early withdrawal hence this frustration.


  • Pak Hindu
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:44PM

    Where are the “Foreign” commenters now who love to answer our Poll and teach us our History?


  • well-wisher
    Mar 12, 2012 - 6:52PM

    Why there is not a single response from US CENTCOM spokes-person on this recent or Quran burning incidence ? I am not a sympathiser of Taleban or any terrorist group but strongly feel that the PRO in all fairness should necessarily issue their comments/clarification/apology on acts of gross misconduct and inhuman killings by the American forces belonging to a country who claims to be a protector of human rights all over the world.


  • Mirza
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:02PM

    You ask “Can anyone tell me how many US Soldiers punished in recent decade”
    More US soldiers have been punished than the Pakistani army officers after all their atrocities and surrender of E. Pakistan. My stand is all army officials must be punished for their atrocities.


  • Mar 12, 2012 - 7:15PM

    Everything printed in the western press and promulgated by the NATO, ISAF, and US Army press office is a lie!!!
    1) This was a sanctioned night raid operation by the base operation center which runs 24/7.
    2)The idea that this happened by a single soldier is ludicrous in the extreme.
    3) Although gunfire was heard there is no indication that a reaction force was sent out from the base to investigate, this means that the gun fire was expected, QED it was an sanctioned night raid. QED this was a night raid by a special forces team under orders.
    4) this means a vehicle to carry the team.
    5) Radio for contact with the operations and these are recorded!!!
    6) Every single military man will know that to leave a heavily guarded base would require orders to be shown to the guard commander on the gate, one simply cannot leave or enter a base without identification, period!!
    The real information and explanation is available here.


  • Cautious
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:56PM

    Why is it that every international newspaper article correctly indicates that this terrible incident was the result of a single deranged staff Sergeant – while this article implies it was a group of drunken USA soldiers. Terrible reporting – shame on the Editor.


  • Afghan Karachite
    Mar 12, 2012 - 8:01PM

    @John Marsh:

    Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly what the wounded eye witnesses say, and I expected from the very beginning. Again, Thanks a lot!


  • Pradeep
    Mar 12, 2012 - 8:12PM

    @Ali Tanoli – Don’t climb your moral high horse yet. ET is a part of the International Herald Tribune which in turn is a part of the New York Times. And yes, NYT has already published it. However what they publish is inconsequential. What is needed is a full investigation into the issue.


  • Tony C.
    Mar 12, 2012 - 8:30PM

    The more one considers what happened in Balambi village the more one wonders what actually happened. Villagers are reporting multiple soldiers creating mayhem, but Afghan officials, Balangi military base, and the Western media are reporting that only one soldier, an American Staff Sergeant, was involved. It looks for all intent and purpose to be a cover up by the Americans. Anybody who has served in the military would know how difficult it is to get out of a heavily defended base camp, particularly in a war zone, at 3am, without authorization. Added to this CCTV cameras would be everywhere to make sure that unauthorized people did not get in or out of the camp without permission. It would be virtually impossible for a single soldier carrying weapons and cans of petrol to get out of camp without authorization. It sounds like a late night mission with multiple soldiers was authorized, which failed because they did not kill everybody, and therefore witnesses, who went to ground, can report on what actually happened. To repeat, it appears that it was a clearly sanctioned night time raid, which did not work out the way it was planned. The Americans might have had it in mind to blame the Taliban, but unfortunately witnesses have identified American soldiers as the culprits.


  • Maulana Diesel
    Mar 12, 2012 - 10:25PM

    @TonyC. —- agree with you completely!


  • Ozymandias
    Mar 12, 2012 - 11:13PM

    @Tony C.:
    Spot on I think


  • Saad Raees
    Mar 12, 2012 - 11:14PM

    Someone told me that there IS life in Mars! The creatures over there consider Earth as their mental asylum where their mentally challenged people and lunatics were sent centuries ago and hence this human population came into existence from some lunatics, I have started to believe this!


  • Hassan
    Mar 13, 2012 - 2:54AM

    Karzai should demand that these soldiers should be handed over to Afghans and they should run a trial and punish him as per there laws fair enough. My condolences to the families who lost there loved ones may God bless them


  • imam shamil.
    Mar 13, 2012 - 3:39AM

    Bunch of Quintrill Rebels.


  • Deb
    Mar 13, 2012 - 3:48AM

    A despicable act of savagery and should be condemned by one and all.
    In war and conflict zones, as the great philosopher warrior Donal Rumsfeld said, ‘bad things do happen’. Like it happened on 22nd March’ 1739 when Nadir Shah ravaged Delhi with 25,000 men,women and children dead in about 4 hours time ( even drone attacks look like children’s video games).


  • Pashtun voice
    Mar 13, 2012 - 4:05AM

    It is high time for the Pushtuns and the Tajiks in AFghanistan to unite. The Tajiks should not allow foreigners to divide the AFghan people.


  • Cautious
    Mar 13, 2012 - 5:10AM

    @Tony C. So aljazeera is now considered Western Media? No offense but newspapers Saudi Arabia, Turkey and throughout the Muslim World have reported this as the act of a lone soldier.


  • Nazir kafray
    Mar 13, 2012 - 8:17AM

    I believe this news item will put an unprecedented amount of pressure on US government. Particularly as this is happening after a series of sensitive incidents like burning of Qur’an and peeing on killed Afghan soldiers/Talibans. No wonder, I believe, President Obama has been reported to have been saying that even a soldier can be tried for “murdering” people . I, however, wish that I had known as to who or which “agencies” are reporting this particular news item. I tried to look up through Google as to which organizations or authors are covered under the term “Agencies” The Express Tribune, says this news item has been reported by !! But I could not find ! Can this newspaper define the term please.


  • Nadir Hussain Afridi
    Mar 13, 2012 - 10:36AM

    US soldiers are good at shooting children and women and negotiate with Taliban fighters, says a lot about the “brave US army”


  • Tony C.
    Mar 13, 2012 - 10:41AM

    Dear Cautious,
    I have always thought that Aljazeera is a little doubtful as an independent Muslim newspaper considering it arose like the Phoenix from the B.B.C. ashes. However, it is now wholly funded by Qatar to the best of my knowledge, but many of its reporters are ex B.B.C. Further, most of the Gulf states, including Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are U.S. puppet states, and their newspapers, in the same way as Western newspapers, receive most of their information in a standard format from suppliers such as Reuters and Associated Press. Q.E.D., and you know who owns them don’t you? There are several newspapers differing from the Western disinformation, and this Includes Russia Today. If the West really wanted the truth perhaps they should interview the Afghan villagers who lost their loved ones, and really report what they are told.


  • Ramish
    Mar 13, 2012 - 12:19PM

    Mental stress and frustration. Are you serious guys? Try understanding what a person who has lost all his family to the U.S soldier goes through. It is high time the U.S understand killing innocent people would not get them anywhere. For every one casualty, there are 5 people willing to give away their lives in revenge.


  • Zeta
    Mar 13, 2012 - 1:14PM

    Nothing but i can laugh on indians here above trying to find reasons to Justify this terrorist act.


  • SomeoneFromSomewhere
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:19AM

    @Ali Tanoli, all American channels are showing this news 24*7 and people like Diane Sawyer (I assume you know her because you claim to be from USA) dedicated her 30 mins World News show on this news on her day before yesterday show on channel 5 (ABC). Not to mention other news channel like CNN/MSNBC etc.


  • SomeoneFromSomewhere
    Mar 14, 2012 - 12:22AM

    And yes, I condemn this heinous hate crime by one individual. I am sure he will be brought to justice.


  • Tony C.
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:03AM

    Dear Someone,

    It appears that U.S. TV has it wrong as well. They are pushing the fiction that only one U.S. soldier was involved. With the lapse of time it is becoming more and more apparent that the Kandahar attack was a fully planned U.S. military mission with multiple soldiers involved Further, it appears that 40 plus U.S. night time attacks are taking place every night. The difference this time is that they killed so many, and so many witnesses are still alive. I am afraid that Cent-Com stuffed up big time. I think that General Mathis should go, but it looks as if the sergeant will be the patsy.


  • Tony C.
    Mar 16, 2012 - 10:36PM

    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.


  • Nobody
    Mar 17, 2012 - 10:08AM

    @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.


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