The Taliban have vowed to avenge the deaths of 16 civilians in Afghanistan, allegedly shot by a U.S. soldier in a rampage through villages near Kanadahar.
According to The Associated Press, the Afghan militia on its website called the attack a “blood-soaked and inhumane crime” and the attackers “sick-minded American savages.” It promised to seek revenge “for every single martyr with the help of Allah.”
A single soldier, identified as an Army staff sergeant, had surrendered to authorities in connection with Sunday’s killings, according to U.S. officials, but village elders in the rural Panjwai district outside Kandahar, the site of the slayings, told NPR that more than one American soldier was involved in attacks in separate hamlets.
“One was a quarter of a mile outside the American base and the other in a hamlet about a mile away,” NPR’s Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul. “In the first village, about 11 people died in one family, most of them young children in one house. Their bodies were apparently gathered up under some blankets, which were then set alight.”
U.S. officials say no official combat operations were taking place in the region at the time of the killings, but Lawrence says they “admit that it’s still an open question whether other soldiers might have been involved.”
According to the AP:
Some villagers also told officials there were multiple soldiers and heard shooting from different directions. But many others said they only saw a single soldier.
U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said Monday that “there’s no indication that there was more than one shooter.” He said the number of dead were “in the teens.”
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said Monday that first reports indicate a single soldier was responsible for the attacks, but did not close off the possibility that more were involved.
The alleged attacks come close on the heels anger and deadly protests sparked by U.S. troops burning copies of the Quran last month. In the same region of the country, it was also revealed last year that a group of U.S. soldiers had been shooting Afghan civilians for sport.
We’ll have more shortly …