Gunmen attack Afghan officials at US shooting site | News | DW | 13.03.2012
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Gunmen attack Afghan officials at US shooting site

A high-level delegation of Afghan officials was fired on during a condolence visit to a village where a US soldier is suspected of having killed 16 people in a shooting spree. One person was killed and another wounded.

Gunmen opened fire on the group in Balandi village in the southern Kandahar province on Tuesday. The firing came from a distance during a memorial service for the victims of Sunday's shootings. An Afghan soldier providing security to the delegation was killed and a military prosecutor was wounded.

President Hamid Karzai's brother, Qayum, who was part of the delegation, said the attack hadn't seemed serious to him.

"We were giving them our condolences, then we heard two very, very light shots," said Karzai. "Then we assumed that it was the national army that started to fire in the air."

The firing apparently went on for around 10 minutes.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Taliban had vowed revenge for the incident on Sunday, saying they would behead those responsible.

Street protest

Also on Tuesday, hundreds of Afghan university students took to the streets of Jalalabad, in the east of the country, in protest against the incident on Sunday.

The students shouted angry slogans, denouncing the US and the soldier who is believed to have shot the 16 mainly women and children. They carried banners calling for a public trial of the American soldier and for jihad, or holy war, to expel US troops from the country. Some demonstrators burned an effigy of US President Barack Obama.

Afghans burn an effigy of President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Jalalabad

The protesters called for 'Death to America'

"The reason we are protesting is because of the killing of innocent children and other civilians by this tyrant US soldier," Sardar Wali, a university student told the Associated Press. "We want the United Nations and the Afghan government to publicly try this guy."

The protest dispersed after around two hours.

The response to the killings has so far been more subdued than the often violent protests that took place after US soldiers burned up copies of the Koran and other Muslim holy books last month.

Reports from US officials say the shooter left his base in Kandahar province early Sunday, entered three homes of Afghan civilians and opened fire. The soldier then gathered some of the bodies together and set fire to them. Officials say it was an isolated act of one rogue soldier.

Both the Pentagon and the White House have stated the man, who is in custody, would be tried in a US military court. He could face the death penalty of convicted.

ncy/pfd (AP, DPA, AFP)