US soldier detained after shooting Afghan civilians | News | DW | 11.03.2012
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US soldier detained after shooting Afghan civilians

Coalition forces have detained an American service member for shooting Afghan civilians in Kandahar province. The governor's office in Kandahar province reported that the shooter had killed around a dozen Afghans.

A US soldier was detained in southern Afghanistan on Sunday for opening fire on civilians, according to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"A United States service member was detained today in connection to an incident that resulted in Afghan casualties in Kandahar province," the ISAF said in a release.

The governor of Kandahar province, Tooryalai Wesa, told the news agency Reuters that the soldier walked off his base in Kandahar and opened fire on civilians. The governor's office reported that around a dozen Afghans died in the shootings.

"According to our primary information, 10 to 15 Afghan civilians were killed by the US soldier in the district early Sunday," the office of Kandahar's provincial governor told the news agency dpa.

Ahmad Jawed Faysal, a spokesman for the governor, reported casualties in the villages of Alokozai and Garrambai in Panjwayi district, according to the AFP news agency.

"A delegation has been sent to find out how this has happened as well as to determine the dead and injured," Faysal said.

'Regrettable incident'

NATO expressed its regret over the shootings and extended condolences to the affected families.

"This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved," NATO said in a release, adding that US forces would assist local authorities in their investigation.

The US embassy, meanwhile, said that the unidentified shooter would be brought to justice.

"We deplore any attack by a member of the US Armed Forces against innocent civilians, and denounce all violence against civilians," the embassy said in a release.

"We assure the people of Afghanistan that the individual or individuals responsible for this act will be identified and brought to justice."

Rising tensions

The shootings come amid rising tensions between the US and Afghanistan after an incident in which American soldiers burned Qurans and other religious material. Although US President Barack Obama officially apologized and said the burnings were an accident, the incident sparked protests and attacks that killed more than 30 people. Six US troops were killed by their nominal comrades in the Afghan army after the Quran burnings went public.

In January, a video was posted online showing US marines urinating on the corpses of dead Afghan insurgents.

Washington and Kabul are currently trying to hammer out a strategic partnership ahead of the May NATO summit in Chicago. The agreement would formalize the US-Afghan relationship and the role of American soldiers in Afghanistan after NATO's scheduled transfer of security to the Afghan army at the end of 2014.

slk/tj (AP, AFP, dpa , Reuters)