U.S. Soldier Detained In Afghan Shooting Spree

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP
A U.S. service member came out of his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians.  Sixteen people are reported dead.

AP

A U.S. service member came out of his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians, killing 16, including woman and children, Afghan officials said.

The shooting spree occurred in Panjwai district of Kandahar province.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said 16 people were killed, including nine children and three women.

"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said in a statement. He said he has repeatedly demanded the U.S. stop killing Afghan civilians.

Five people were wounded in the pre-dawn attack, including a 15-year-old boy named Rafiullah who was shot in the leg and spoke to the president over the telephone. He described how the American soldier entered his house in the middle of the night, woke up his family and began shooting them, according to Karzai's statement.

President Barack Obama called the shootings "tragic and shocking," and said he was deeply saddened by the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians.

In a statement Mr. Obama said, "I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering." He also asserted the incident "does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan."

The attack took place in two villages in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province. The villages — Balandi and Alkozai — are about 500 yards away from a U.S. base. The shooting started around 3 a.m., said Asadullah Khalid, the government representative for southern Afghanistan and a member of the delegation that went to investigate the incident.

A resident of the village of Alkozai, Abdul Baqi, told the AP that, based on accounts of his neighbors, the American gunman went into three different houses and opened fire.

"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," Baqi said.

Speaking from Kabul, CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports that, according to an Afghan official, 11 civilians including women and children were killed in one home. He has been detained and an investigation is ongoing.

Clark said there is no indication of a motivation in the attack. "They haven't made any links to the victims and the soldiers, so it's very unclear why he went on this shooting rampage," said Clark.

An AP photographer saw the bodies - 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 about 500 yards away from a U.S. base.

Villagers packed inside a minibus looked on with concern as a woman spoke to reporters. She pulled back a blanket to reveal the body of a smaller child wearing what appeared to be red pajamas. A third dead child lay amid a pile of green blankets in the bed of a truck.

Gen. John R. Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said in a statement, "I was shocked and saddened to hear of the shooting incident today in Kandahar Province. I offer my profound regret and deepest condolences to the victims and their families. I pledge to all the noble people of Afghanistan my commitment to a rapid and thorough investigation.

"In the meantime, we will continue to offer medical care for those who were injured in this shooting," Gen. Allen said. "We will maintain custody of the U.S. service member alleged to have perpetrated this attack. And we will cooperate fully with local Afghan authorities as we ascertain all the facts."

He said the "deeply appalling incident" in no way represents the values of ISAF and coalition troops, said he was absolutely dedicated to making sure anyone found to have committed wrong-doing is held fully accountable.

Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a spokesperson for the ISAF, speaking in a video posted to Natochannel and on YouTube, also expressed "deep regrets" and "sorrow" for the members of the families of those who perished.

He did not did not link this shooting to other recent incidents, such the burning of Qurans and the subsequent protests which led to the deaths of six U.S. service members and more than two dozen Afghan civilians.

"Of course it is a very tragic event, it looks like the act of an individual, but we have to find out what the background behind it is . . . look into the case in detail."

Twelve of the dead were from Balandi, said Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family, including women and children. Khan was away from the village when the incident occurred and returned to find his family members shot and burned. One of his neighbors was also killed, he said.

"This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act," said Khan. "Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women."

Khan demanded that Afghan President Hamid Karzai punish the American shooter.

"Otherwise we will make a decision," said Khan. "He should be handed over to us."

Residents in Alkozai village also demanded that Karzai punish the American or hand him over to the villagers. The four people killed in the village were all from one family, said a female relative who was shouting in anger. She did not give her name because of the conservative nature of local society.

"No Taliban were here. No gun battle was going on," said the woman. "We don't know why this foreign soldier came and killed our innocent family members. Either he was drunk or he was enjoying killing civilians."

The Taliban called the shootings the latest sign that international forces are working against the Afghan people.

"The so-called American peace keepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province," The Taliban said in a statement posted on a website used by the insurgent group.

Appearing on "Face the Nation," CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said that motive may be besides the point: "The number one mission for U.S. troops in Afghanistan is to protect Afghan civilians. For an American soldier just to open fire on Afghan civilians just undercuts the mission of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan."

Jere van Dyk: What might Kandahar shootings mean for U.S.?

A man points to bloodstains where witnesses say Afghans were killed by a U.S. service member, in Panjwai, Kandahar province Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012.
(Credit: AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)
Sediq Sediqqi of the Afghan Interior Ministry condemned the attack, telling Reuters, "We condemn the shootings in the strongest terms possible and this will be fully investigated."

This attack could not have come at a worse time, said CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark. Last month, Afghans held mass protests against American troops after U.S. soldiers mistakenly burned copies of the Quran. Six American soldiers were killed in retaliation attacks.

The worry now is how the Afghan public will react to this attack.

Also appearing on "Face the Nation" this morning, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said it was time for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan, adding that the U.S. is not "ruthless enough" to affect fundamental change.

"I think we have to reassess the entire region," he told Bob Schieffer. "I think we need to reconsider the whole mission. We need to understand that our being the middle of countries like Afghanistan is counter-productive. We are not in a position to force them to change."

Gingrich: It's time to get out of Afghanistan

U.S. forces are investigating the shooting in cooperation with Afghan authorities, NATO spokesman Justin Brockhoff said. He said it was not clear if the alleged shooter knew the victims.

There were reports of protests following the shooting.

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.

Meanwhile, a prominent Afghan women's rights activist said gunmen attacked her office in a western province overnight 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 late in the night 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.

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.


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  • by Richard Location: Colorado Springs on Mar 12, 2012 at 01:32 PM
    The only facts we have been told is that a lone soldier left his base went into a village and killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of which were children. Now when something like that happens in our country we are usually outraged and want to see justice served. So why is it different when an American commits a capitol crime in another country? Why do some of you think that this soldier should receive a medal? Which medal would that be? I served 20 years in the Army and never have heard of a medal for killing women and children. If there is one I am sure it is a yellow stripe worn down the back. We are the first to scream of crimes against humanity when it concerns people from other countries so why should this be any different? It is time to withdraw from Afghanistan! Our mission was to find Obama Bin Laden which we did and to dismatnle Al-Qaeda and limit the strength of the Taliban. To do this our troops need the trusting support and help from the people of Afghanistan which we pretty much have lost due to recent events. This soldier has done nothing more than to put our troops in harm's way and if you are arrogant and ignorant enough to support his actions then you need serious help.
    • reply
      by GI Dad on Mar 12, 2012 at 01:55 PM in reply to Richard
      The problem with the concept of removing Al-Qaeda's and the Taliban's influence is that they also visit in the middle of the night. They send those Afghan soldiers and security people that do have some guts pictures of their homes and their kids. All the while we often require confirmation of hostile intent before allowing our troops to fire. It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out which side will win in a situation like this. We either pull out or we work with the good Afghans to lie in wait for the Taliban and leave their corpses in the road until daylight. Either way, it is the option of our beloved Commander in Chief. Yes, this troop needs to be tried right there in Afghanistan, with the trial broadcast for all Afghans to see. We also need to take the gloves off when dealing with the Taliban and hunt them down. I'd like to see Kharzi apologize for the murders of our GIs by ANP and ANA types.
      • reply
        by Eh? on Mar 13, 2012 at 05:23 AM in reply to GI Dad
        What is a "rocket surgeon"? If any armed forces dare to occupy the United States, exactly what do you think would happen? "Take the gloves off"? Like Russia did? Your knowledge of the culture in Afghanistan is limited by what you hear on the radio or TV. Karzai has no real power. Take the time to read about the history and you will realize why your methodology is flawed.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 12, 2012 at 10:12 AM
    Turn the war criminal over to the Afghan's and be done with it.
  • by Common Sense on Mar 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM
    Very sad. I feel sorry for those families who's loved ones where taken away....I also feel sad for the soldier who is obviously very disturbed. My prayers for all involved.
  • by psst on Mar 11, 2012 at 09:55 PM
    Still waiting on the a-hole afganistan president to apologize for the deaths of our soldiers these past couple weeks. But no, only the USA apologizes...and apologizes.....and apologizes.
    • reply
      by Obama on Mar 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM in reply to psst
      But I did it for a good reason....to stop the violence...what? Oh, never mind, my bad.
  • by MrX Location: se co Spgs on Mar 11, 2012 at 09:28 PM
    Kill all the mf's. Burn their flag. And Nuke the mf's after we leave. Now ask me if I care and I ask you, have u ever served and 1by 1 you see ur friends die? Until u have then shut t f up! Nam Vet 67-68
    • reply
      by psst on Mar 11, 2012 at 09:52 PM in reply to MrX
      Sounds like you wrapped up your flag a bit tight about you, eh? BTW since you've said this quite a few times in your various and ignorant ranting....freedom of speech. Nobody has to shut the f up if they don't want to. You don't like what they're saying....leave. No ones pointing a gun to your head to force you to read comments you don't agree with. But going by your many previous responses to various articles, you don't really care about that do you?
      • reply
        by Mr x. on Mar 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM in reply to psst
        Better yet, why don't you go join em AH. I'd love to spot you with a rag wrapped around your head!
        • reply
          by psst on Mar 12, 2012 at 06:51 AM in reply to Mr x.
          Classless and dumb. It's going to be fun getting your knickers in a bunch from time to time x-baby. Ha-ha!
  • by David Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan on Mar 11, 2012 at 09:02 PM
    For you idiots running your mouths, he killed unarmed women and children who were sleeping. And you are cheering for him. Sick cowards behind a computer screen, may the absolute worst happen to you.
  • by Dave Location: LA on Mar 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
    I don't have too much empathy for these thugs. They would kill us all (and any non muslim) if they could Good articles on www.ariespost.com
  • by cotton Location: cs on Mar 11, 2012 at 06:23 PM
    give that g.i. a ribbon for doing his job
  • by ML on Mar 11, 2012 at 06:09 PM
    Now might be a good time to read up on the "would you fire on US civilians ?" survey from 29 Palms, California. Just a thought.
  • by Evil soldiers on Mar 11, 2012 at 05:27 PM
    I say we find the army soldier killers family members, and shoot them all in the head, making sure he watches. Then we can call it even, just before we shoot him too. You Colorado Springs war mongers make me sick...
    • reply
      by K 75th Ranger on Mar 11, 2012 at 06:25 PM in reply to Evil soldiers
      I'd nail parts of your anatomy to the floor..if you had em
    • reply
      by Chrisitan on Mar 11, 2012 at 07:12 PM in reply to Evil soldiers
      Just another punk talkin smack! Shut the Hell up and find a life B!
    • reply
      by Soldiers are awesome on Mar 11, 2012 at 07:38 PM in reply to Evil soldiers
      You are trying so hard to get a response so here's one for you.....yawing.....and now I'm scratching my behind.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 11, 2012 at 08:07 PM in reply to Evil soldiers
      That's what's so great about war. Here in America we never have to watch it. Now, let's bomb (name of country here) back to the stone age while we play cool war video games!
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