A man sits in the back of a truck with the bodies of several men and a child allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012. (AP)
The families of the slain Afghan civilians have received $50,000 from the United States government, according to an Afghan official and community elder.
Each wounded person received $11,000, Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai said.
The recipients were told the money came from President Obama.
A U.S. official confirmed that the families did receive compensation for their loss, but did not say the amount.
A spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces declined to confirm or deny the payments, saying that while coalition members often make compensation payments, they are usually kept private.
"As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales stands accused of gunning down 16 Afghan civilians in their sleep, wounding six more, and then burning some of the bodies. Bales allegedly used his 9 mm pistol and M-4 rifle, outfitted with a grenade launcher. Nine children were among those killed.
U.S. officials said Saturday that investigators now believe Bales may have divided the massacre in half, returning to his base in the middle of the killings before heading out for a second round.
Bales has been charged with 17 counts of murder, though the U.S. has not explained the numeric discrepancy. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
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