Afghanistan: US Soldier Goes On Civilian Killing Spree. 16 Dead

Terrible, horrific news from the NY Times and others this morning.

A United States service member walked out of a military base in a rural district of southern Afghanistan on Sunday and opened fire on three nearby houses, killing at least 16 civilians, including several children, local villagers and provincial officials said.

…In the statement, the United States military raced to head off Afghan outrage. ”œThis is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved,” the statement said.

It went on to say that American forces, in cooperation with the Afghan authorities, would investigate the incident.

The killer walked back to his base and turned himself in. He is now in US custody, while both Afghan and Coalition officials are warning of another round of violent Afghan outrage at the continued abuse of their nation. Given the way in which casual killing of and pissing on the dead bodies of Afghans has been lightly treated by US military courts in the past, I won’t hold my breath that this murderer will be treated any differently. The US and its allies have become like a husband who says its all for her own good, while poor wife Afghanistan has all the bruises.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

16 CommentsLeave a comment

  • and the Afghani’s I think don’t give a shit about the words of the coalition:

    In the statement, the United States military raced to head off Afghan outrage. “This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved,” the statement said.

    Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart. ~ Phil Jackson

  • Of course we are hearing the “lone psycho” argument. The problem is this is just the latest “psycho” and wars like this create many of them. I was in the military during Vietnam. The soldiers in the field assumed that all of the Vietnamese were their enemies for good reason, once you got out of the major cities most of them were. The kids who accepted candy from you during the day would try to stab you in the back at night. Like the Vietnamese the Afghans see us as occupiers supporting a corrupt government . You live with this 24/7 and it shouldn’t be too surprising that some are driven over the edge.
    The ultimate responsibility falls on those who sent them to this emotional hell.

  • Taking men trained to kill without hesitation, giving them unlimited access to heavy munitions, dislocating them from their families, lives, homes, and personal anchors, dropping them into a hostile foreign country for a decade, making them fight an enemy they can barely see much less identify, and they kill civilians?!?

    Man, WTF is wrong with these soldiers?

  • that the soldiers that talk nice to the villagers during the day and perform raids during the night are thought of the same way.

    Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart. ~ Phil Jackson

  • That’s why Golda Meir told Anwar Saddat, “We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours.”

    I never met a veteran of close combat who wasn’t badly damaged by the stress of constant danger, by what he saw and what he did in order to survive and/or win.

    I suspect that one time or another every soldier feels his choice is to shoot himself or shoot someone else.
    (The high suicide rate among veterans should tell us something) and survivors aren’t much better off.

    While those responsible will get some punishment, it’s really pissing into the wind and will accomplish nothing.
    The real responsibility lies with those who sent them there and constantly beat the drums of war, for profit and powerr.
    They will get off scot-free.

    It is worth remembering that the Founding Fathers were all traitors.

  • just like Haditha. Except the charges were dropped against all but one. The one who got charged served no jail time and walked, cuz he had family ya know…

    Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart. ~ Phil Jackson

  • And COIN just took yet another heavy hit.

    It’s frickin’ over, people.

    The only sane thing to do is get out of there.

    I would say “declare victory” and leave, but after this, it’s clear we can’t declare any kind of a victory.

    Can we just leave, now, dammit?

    Oh, I am not talking about relocating to Iran.

  • Statement on website promises revenge for ‘every single martyr’, as questions are raised about military mission in Afghanistan.

    The Guardian, By Emma Graham-Harrison, March 12

    Kabul – The Taliban have vowed to take revenge for a US soldier’s “barbaric” killing of 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday morning, as Afghan lawmakers called for the American to be tried in a court in Afghanistan.

    The murderous spree has prompted western and Afghan questions about the military mission in Afghanistan, and is likely to complicate efforts to seal a much-delayed strategic pact laying out the basis for US military presence and financial support after combat troops leave in 2014.

    Funeral services were held in the victims’ villages on Monday, and a presidential delegation arrived in nearby Kandahar city ahead of a larger memorial service, as the Taliban said in a statement on their website that they would “take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr”.

    The streets of Afghanistan were quiet, despite fears of a repeat of the violence that broke out in February when US forces were found to have burned copies of the Qur’an. Dozens of Afghans died in riots, and six US soldiers were shot dead by Afghan forces they served alongside.

  • Afghans mourn shooting victims; Taliban calls for vengeance on U.S.

    Los Angeles Times, By Laura King, March 12

    Prayers and muffled sobs filled the air Monday during remembrances by Afghan villagers for 16 of their neighbors, nine of them children, who were killed a day earlier during a shooting rampage allegedly carried out by an American soldier.

    In the capital, Kabul, parliament passed a resolution condemning the “brutal and inhuman” act by the accused assailant, identified by the U.S. military as a sergeant who acted alone in his attack on civilians near his base in Kandahar province. He tossed blankets atop the bodies of those he had killed and tried to burn them, villagers said.

    Afghan lawmakers demanded a public trial inside the country for the American soldier, who remained under interrogation by military investigators. U.S. officials said the alleged assailant would face military justice rather than being tried in Afghan courts, in keeping with usual military practice.

    The Taliban, meanwhile, vowed vengeance on Western troops in Afghanistan and scoffed at reports that the alleged attacker might be mentally ill.

    “Is there any military … in the entire world which gives legality for unstable persons to be armed and drafted into the military and then be given the duty of so-called peacekeeping?” the group asked on its website.

    Afghanistan killings deal another blow to Obama’s exit plan

    The attack, apparently carried out by a U.S. service member, shows how unforeseen troubles and not carefully developed timetables may be setting the endgame.

    Los Angeles Times, By David S. Cloud and Don Lee, March 12

    Washington – The killing of 16 civilians in Afghanistan, allegedly by a lone U.S. serviceman, is one more blow to President Obama’s hopes for an easy exit from a 10-year-old war and deepens doubts about U.S. plans to assign advisors to Afghan forces.

    The gruesome predawn attack showed how horrific and unforeseen events in Afghanistan, not timetables and plans at the White House and Pentagon, are setting the endgame for America’s involvement in a deeply unpopular war.

    Washington had hoped for a carefully managed withdrawal starting this year, with 20,000 U.S. troops due home by September. Obama administration officials also are seeking a long-term security agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in an effort to keep the Taliban insurgency at bay after the remaining U.S. and allied combat troops depart by the end of 2014.

    In public, administration officials insisted that the mass slaying would not derail their plans or force them to reassess the withdrawal.

    “This tragic incident does not reflect the commitment of the U.S. military to protect the Afghan people and help build a strong and stable Afghanistan,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a statement. He added that he told Karzai in a telephone call Sunday that he remains “fully committed to ensuring that our cooperation continues.”

    But a series of setbacks has upset U.S. plans in recent months, and intensifies doubts in the White House about whether it is possible to salvage an outcome in Afghanistan that looks anything like the victory that Obama once promised.

  • has become de rigueur to put the “Vietnam syndrome” behind us and to facilitate our glorious military culture. My guess is that for the most part our military is filled by the poverty draft, but we share some responsibility for cheering when the ordinary soldiers march to the drums of war with the leaders shielded behind.

  • US soldier who killed villagers should be put on trial in Afghanistan, parliament demands

    A US soldier who went on a shooting spree that killed 16 villagers in their homes should be put on public trial in Afghanistan, the parliament has said, as the Taliban vowed revenge.

    The Telegraph, March 12

    “We seriously demand and expect that the government of the United States punish the culprits and try them in a public trial before the people of Afghanistan,” the lower house of parliament said in statement.

    Condemning the killings as “brutal and inhuman”, parliament declared that “people are running out of patience over the ignorance of foreign forces”.


    “When Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces, this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action,” Karzai said.

    Col Richard Kemp, the Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, warned British troops could be killed in reprisal attacks.

    He said the massacre, including nine children and three women, will also cause an erosion of the vital trust allied forces have built up with Afghan civilians over the course of the war.

    American troops and nationals in Afghanistan have been placed on high alert and were told to expect reprisals in response to the killings, an emergency statement on the website of the US embassy in Kabul said. Restrictions were also placed on the movement of embassy personnel in the South.

  • AP, By Mirwais Khan, March 12

    Kandahar, Afghanistan — An Afghan youth recounted on Monday the harrowing scene in his home as a lone U.S. soldier moved stealthily through it during a killing spree, then crouched down and shot his father in the thigh as he emerged from the bedroom in the deep of night.

    The soldier, now in U.S. custody, is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes overnight between Saturday and Sunday and then burning some of their corpses. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said nine of those killed were children and three were women.

    “He was walking around taking up positions in the house — in two or three places like he was searching,” said 26-year-old witness Mohammad Zahir, who watched the gunman while hiding in another room. “He was on his knees when he shot my father” in the thigh, he told The Associated Press. His father was wounded but survived.


    “I heard a gunshot. When I came out of my room, somebody entered our house. He was in a NATO forces uniform. I didn’t see his face because it was dark,” he said.

    Zahir said he quickly went into another room in the house, where animals are penned.

    “After that, I saw him moving to different areas of the house — like he was searching,” he said.

    His father, unarmed, then took a few steps out of his bedroom door, Zahir recalled.

    “He was not holding anything — not even a cup of tea,” Zahir said. Then he fired.

    “My mother was pulling my father into the room. I put a cloth on his wound,” he said.

  • …had a head injury. Innocent by reason of insanity or mental defect?
    Either way; this will not end “justly”.

    Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them,and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows,or with both~FDouglas

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