News

US Officials: Afghan Killings May Fuel More Anti-American Sentiment

US soldiers keep watch at the entrance of a military base near Alkozai village following the shooting of Afghan civilians allegedly committed by a rogue US soldier in Panjwayi. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it had arrested a soldier
US soldiers keep watch at the entrance of a military base near Alkozai village following the shooting of Afghan civilians allegedly committed by a rogue US soldier in Panjwayi. NATO's International Security Assistance Force said it had arrested a soldier

Multimedia

Audio

Afghan and NATO authorities are continuing to investigate the actions of a U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians and then setting many of the bodies on fire on Sunday. While no major protests over the incident occurred on Monday, authorities worry it could further fuel public opposition to foreign troops.   

Villagers who witnessed the attack in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province say they saw a U.S. soldier shooting the victims, many of whom where women and children, as they slept. Some of the bodies were also partially burned indicating that the perpetrator set them on fire.

One man who lost his family explained to reporters what happened.

He says as he started to fire a dog ran toward him and he shot the dog, then he entered the house, rounded all family members in one room and martyred all of them.

President Karzai called the attack, “an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven.” President Barack Obama called the attack "tragic and shocking" and not representative of "the exceptional character of the U.S. military.

Listen to analysis by South Asia expert Taj Hashmi

Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, says the shootings in Kandahar are being investigated as a murder, and not part of any military operation. “Those who suffered as innocent citizens of Kandahar are not civilian casualties from military activity, they are victims,” he stated.

U.S. officials identified an army staff sergeant as the shooter and said he acted alone. But some villagers and Afghan officials are skeptical that one soldier could have amassed such a death toll on his own, and others may haven been involved.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also raised doubts in a statement in which he at first confirmed that a single U.S. gunman was responsible but later referred to “American forces” entering houses.

There is great concern that the incident could fuel public outrage similar to last month’s inadvertent burning of Qurans at an American military base. That led to a week of violent protests, as well as attacks against U.S. forces and the killing of two American officers in the interior ministry. Afghans have spread rumors that Sunday’s attacks were retribution for those deaths.

General Jacobson said there is no evidence that the Kandahar attack was linked to any past attacks against U.S. soldiers, but did not disclose the soldier’s possible motive. He urged the public to allow investigators to do their work and not engage in speculation.

“Beliefs and rumors are always a bad guidance. And we have seen and heard enough beliefs and rumors yesterday, as the story becomes clearer and clearer to us at this moment and has to become clearer in coming days,” Jacobson said.

The Taliban released a statement that vowed revenge for the killings.

The shooting comes as U.S. and Afghan authorities negotiate the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces. The two sides already signed off on a deal to transfer full control of an American detention facility to Afghanistan in six months, and now hope to develop a broader strategic partnership agreement before the May meeting of NATO in Chicago. That agreement is expected to define the U.S role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of most of its 98,000 combat soldiers in 2014.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs