The Spook Who Sat By the Door The Spook Who Sat By the Door

Sunday, March 11, 2012

U.S. Soldier On Rampage After Mental Breakdown – Kills 16 Afghan Civilians, Including 9 Children

they do that here at home 2

The U.S service member is said to have surrendered to U.S. military authorities after entering the three homes, and is currently in their custody. Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks as ‘an assassination’ and demanded an explanation from the U.S.

The attack could deepen strife between the two countries, as it comes weeks after NATO soldiers burned copies of the Koran – the Muslim holy book – sparking a violent protest that left some 30 people dead.

An Associated Press photographer reported that he saw 15 bodies of Afghans – some of them burned and some covered with blankets – in the villages of Alkozai and Balandi in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district. The villages are in close proximity to a U.S. base.

NATO forces have detained the U.S. service member who is accused of going on a shooting spree in the villages. A NATO spokesman has confirmed multiple people wounded but has not confirmed any deaths.

‘The incident happened. There are some people killed, some wounded. But I don’t have details,’ he said in a phone interview with the Associated Press.

One man told the AFP news agency of his great loss. ‘Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,’ Haji Samad said.

‘They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,’ a weeping Mr Samad told Reuters at the scene.

Another accused the U.S. soldier of burning the bodies after he shot them, Reuters reported.

According to Al Jazeera, the soldier went into three separate houses around three o’clock this morning when it was pitch black and shot the civilians, who were sleeping in their beds.

A resident of Alkozai, where the shootings took place, told an AP reporter that 16 people were killed as the U.S. service member went into three different houses and started shooting.

The villager, Abdul Baqi, said he had not seen the bodies himself, but had talked to the family members of the dead.

‘When it was happening in the middle of the night we were inside our houses. I heard gunshots and then silence and then gunshots again,’ Mr Baqi said.

Reports say that 15 members from two Afghan families were slaughtered, as well as an unidentified sixteenth person.

NATO spokesman Justin Brockhoff said a U.S. service member had been detained as the alleged shooter and that the coalition had reports of ‘multiple wounded,’ but none killed. The wounded were evacuated to NATO medical facilities, he said.

Maj. Jason Waggoner, another spokesman for ISAF said: ‘The civilian casualties were not the result of any operations. The soldier was acting on his own. After the incident, he returned to the compound and turned himself in.’

NATO-led International Security Assistance Force deputy commander Lt Gen Andrian Bradshaw would not speculate the reasoning behind the seemingly random attack.

Mr Karzai said in a statement that he was sending high-level authorities to investigate the shooting and deliver a full report. NATO officials, too, are conducting an inquiry.

‘This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,’ Mr Karzai said in a statement, adding that he has repeatedly called for the U.S. to stop killing Afghan citizens.

President Obama was briefed on the shootings earlier today.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement: ‘We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident, and are monitoring the situation closely.’

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Newt Gingrich commented on the escalating tensions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, saying: ‘I think that we have to reassess the entire region,’ noting Washington’s tumultuous relationship with neighbouring Pakistan as well.

Twelve of the dead were from Balandi, said Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family, including women and children.

Mr Khan was away from the village when the incident occurred and returned to find his family members shot and burned.

One of his neighbours was also killed, he said. It was unclear how or why the bodies were burned.

‘This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act,’ said Mr Khan.

‘Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women.’

Khan demanded that Karzai punish the American shooter.

‘Otherwise we will make a decision,’ said Khan. ‘He should be handed over to us,’ he told the Associated Press.

‘I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorised ISAF military activity,’ he said in a statement.

There were reports of protests in Panjwai following the shooting and the U.S. embassy warned travellers in Kandahar province to ‘exercise caution.’

The Afghan Taliban would take revenge for the deaths, the group said in an e-mailed statement to media.

The shooting comes after weeks of tense relations between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts following the burning of Qurans and other religious materials at an American base.

Though U.S. officials apologized and said the burning was an accident, the incident sparked violent protests and attacks that killed some 30 people.

Six U.S. troops have been killed in attacks by their Afghan colleagues since the Quran burnings came to light.

In the capital, meanwhile, Mr Karzai said the government still expects to sign a strategic partnership agreement with the United States by the time a NATO summit convenes in Chicago in May.

The agreement would formalize the U.S.-Afghan relationship and the role of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after NATO’s scheduled transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government at the end of 2014.

But Mr Karzai stressed the importance of foreign forces leaving Afghanistan to preserve the country’s national sovereignty.

Any international forces that remain after 2014 would have to operate under strict guidelines governing their responsibilities and when they could leave their bases, he said.

‘We have a strong army and police, so it is to our benefit to have good relations with the international community, not have international troops in our country,’ Karzai said at a public event in Kabul.

The president has demanded that international forces stop night raids on the homes of suspected militants as a condition to signing the strategic partnership agreement.

The raids have caused widespread anger among Afghans.

All foreign combat troops are slated to withdraw by end of 2014 from a costly war that has become increasingly unpopular.

Also Sunday, a prominent Afghan women’s rights activist said gunmen attacked her office in a western province in an apparent assassination attempt.

Malalai Joya, a former Afghan lawmaker and vocal critic of both the Taliban and of criminality in the Afghan government, said the attack on her office in Farah province was the sixth attempt on her life to date.

Armed men tried to storm the compound before dawn on Saturday, she said.

The attackers did not get into the building but two of her guards were seriously injured and are currently in the hospital.

Ms Joya said she was in Kabul at the time but had planned a trip to Farah soon and news of that may have leaked out.

She said she believes the attackers thought she was in the building.

The shooting spree took place in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province this morning.

Captain Justin Brockhoff, Nato spokesman confirmed a U.S. service member had been detained following the attack.

The wounded are receiving treatment at a medical base and U.S. forces are investigating the shooting with Afghan authorities.

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