Sixteen Afghans were killed by a rogue American soldier who walked off his base and opened fire on them in their homes in the early hours of this morning,Afghan and Western sources said.
An AFP reporter counted 16 bodies,including women and children,in three houses in two villages of Panjwayi district in the southern province of Kandahar.
A senior Afghan government official,speaking on condition of anonymity,put the death toll at,”nine children,three women and three men are dead”,he said,adding that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was “very angry”.
The shooting is likely to worsen relations between Washington and Kabul,which already plunged to an all-time low last month after the burning of Korans at a military base near the Afghan capital.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said it had arrested a soldier “in connection to an incident that resulted in Afghan casualties in Kandahar province”,without giving a figure for the dead or wounded.
“In one house,I saw 10 people,including women and children killed and burned in one room. Another woman was lying dead at the entrance of the house,” the AFP reporter said from the scene.
Among the dead were “at least two children,two or three years old”.
One other person died in a second house in Alkozai village while four more were killed in nearby Najeeban,he said.
In one house,an elderly woman screamed: “May God kill the only son of Karzai,so he feels what we feel.”
The deputy commander of US-led NATO forces,Lt Gen Adrian Bradshaw,expressed “profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province”.