News24

Afghan shooting: 'More than 1 soldier'

2012-03-11 22:50

Belandai - Bursts of gunfire shook Jan Agha out of bed in his village in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. His father peeped nervously through a window curtain at the lane outside.

Suddenly, more shots rang out. His father was hit in the throat and the face. He died instantly.

Afghan officials say Western forces shot dead 16 civilians including nine children in southern Kandahar province on Sunday in a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by American soldiers who were laughing and appeared drunk.

Only one US soldier appeared to have been involved in the shootings, a US official in Washington said, but that is not what witnesses were saying.

Agha, 20, said American soldiers who had opened fire in the early hours entered the family home and waited in silence for what seemed an eternity. He lay on the floor, pretending to be dead.

"The Americans stayed in our house for a while. I was very scared," he told Reuters.

"My mother was shot in her eye and her face. She was unrecognisable. My brother was shot in the head and chest and my sister was killed, too."

Agha's account of multiple American soldiers shooting villagers could not be immediately verified.

Nato's international security assistance force (ISAF) said it had detained one of its soldiers and that an investigation was under way. It said the soldier reportedly went to more than one village near his base.

President Hamid Karzai's office, however, said in a statement he had spoken by telephone to a young boy who was wounded in the shootings who described how American soldiers had entered his house and opened fire on his family.

'Horrific, inhumane act'

The attack, described by the Afghan defence ministry as a "horrific, inhumane act", was one of the worst such incidents since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

It was not clear what mission the US soldier or soldiers were involved in.

Reuters television footage of the aftermath of the shootings showed beefed up security in the village, which appeared to have Western forces positioned on its edges.

Civilian deaths are a major source of tension between Washington and Kabul.

The latest such killings could be especially damaging, coming just a few weeks after US soldiers burned copies of the Qu'ran, the Muslim holy book, outside a Nato base.

That incident, which Nato called a tragic blunder, triggered widespread violent protests. Afghan forces turned their weapons on American soldiers, killing six in several separate shootings.

The crisis in ties between Washington and Kabul will likely deepen once details of the rampage in Kandahar - the Taliban heartland - spread across a country that has grown increasingly incensed by what many Afghans see as heavy-handed US tactics.

Nato's top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, promised a speedy investigation.

Another witness, Agha Lala, who is in his 40s, said he was awoken by gunfire at about 02:00.

"I watched them from a wall for a while. Then they opened fire on me. The bullets hit the wall. They were laughing. They did not seem normal. It was like they were drunk," he said.

Slaughter

After rushing to his home and hiding all night, Lala, who is no relation to Jan Agha, went to check on the neighbours.

"It was a slaughter. The bullet-riddled bodies were all over the room and it seemed they were burned with curtains and blankets that were torched," he said.

"Is this what the Americans call an assistance force? They are beasts and have no humanity. The Taliban are much better than them."

Blood was splattered in one house in the village and there were bullet holes in the walls.

The Qu'ran burnings and the shootings could hinder US-led efforts to pacify Afghanistan before foreign combat troops leave at the end of 2014.

The United States had just made some progress in trying to reach a strategic partnership agreement which would allow long-term American involvement in the country after 2014.

The two sides signed a deal on Friday on the transfer of a US-run prison at Bagram airbase, where the Qu'rans were burned, to Afghan authorities, something President Karzai had demanded.

Strategic considerations didn't figure in Haji Samad's emotions. Like other villagers, he now sees the Americans as the enemy.

Samad said he had been away when the violence hit Belandai but he realised something was wrong when he saw villagers gathered outside his home.

"I saw all 11 of my family members, including my children and grandchildren, who were killed," he said, crying.

"They dropped some chemical materials on the bodies and burned them."

Comments
  • ahpretorius - 2012-03-11 23:51

    These soldiers are copying what the Englishman, Breaker Morant, did to civilians in 1901. How sad that this happened and how terrible is it that some want to make a hero out of Harry Harbord Morant.

      Barry - 2012-03-12 07:58

      The Breaker Morant case bears absolutely no comparison to the Afganistan shootings. In addition very few Americans are aware of the South African War, let alone Morant who was considered Australian having lived there for many years.

      Richard - 2012-03-12 08:00

      he was an australian... go read your history before making stupid remarks.

      Garth - 2012-03-12 08:19

      Wow! Bitter much? One hundred and how many years and counting? An Australian soldier(formerly from England), who just happened to be part of an English speaking regiment, fighting against armed civilians who did not know when their cause was lost and had been sold out, is himself sold out by his masters. He and his comrades killed armed, then disarmed, boer hensoppers in a revenge attack for the murder, in war, of his friend. They did not go house to house shooting women and children! Are you so blinded by hatred for the English that you do not see the difference. And 111 years on GET A LIFE! You are no better than the anc ignorants citing apartheid, 18 years ago, as an excuse for their uselessness.

      ahpretorius - 2012-03-12 08:19

      I DO know my history Richard, Edwin Henry Morant who later changed his name to Harry Harbord Morant was an Englishman. This was confirmed by himself when he indicated to the Pretoria Goal that he was an Englishman. His lawyer JF Thomas also made it clear that Morant was an Englishman in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald.

      Willem - 2012-03-12 11:05

      Garth, there was only an investigation into Morant because a German missionary were shot, making it an international incident. And then only a minimum of the crimes committed by the Bushveld Carbineers were investigated. In other words; your typical cover-up. Whole Boer families and black villages not co-operating with the British were wiped out. Like 111 years ago, empire building is by necessity a bloody and brutal affair.

      ahpretorius - 2012-03-12 14:36

      Willem, the "german" missionary, Rev C.A.D. Heese, was a South African and a British subject. He was not German. The popular myths of the storie, like the movie are untrue. If you can get a copy of Arthur Davey's book from 1982, breaker morant and the bushveldt carbineers, then you will find a lot of interesting Information about this case.

      Garth - 2012-03-12 15:17

      My post refers, that this murderous incident in no way resembles the crimes that Morant committed. Morant never went door-to-door with his drunken buddies shooting boer women and children! In the first place, in the area where the BVC operated, there was no door-to-door! pretorius's comment, in light of the current situation in SA is so off topic and stupidly damaging because it is filled with a bitterness from events that he did NOT experience personally - NO ONE that is alive today did! So WTF? Move on into the future, or are you one of those useless beings that shall be forever blaming your current woes on apartheid? 111 years! There are incidents throughout the world more damning, more all encompassing of one type of peoples, that have been forgotten for the good of that country/region of occurrence, that happened less than 100 years ago. Hensoppers . . .

      ahpretorius - 2012-03-13 10:17

      Garth, I only mentioned the Morant matter since there is a lot of CURRENT agitation for a pardon for Morant. I invite you to do some research into the murder of Chris Van Staden by the BVC. Garth you sound like an a hole.

  • Jameel - 2012-03-12 06:42

    "My mother was shot in her eye and her face. She was unrecognisable. My brother was shot in the head and chest and my sister was killed, too." Tell me the survivors and witness would not want there own retribution, i know i would

      Anthony - 2012-03-12 06:49

      This was a tragedy beyond believe, by some crazed soldiers. Its exremely sad to see these lives lost. But is it not pathetic, that the harshest criticizm on this site, comes from the one who don't give a damn about the thousands of Syrian opposition members mowed down, by the assad regime. Playing politics with peoples lives!!!!! THAT is pretty sickening !!!!

  • Sihle KaMazibuko Mkhize - 2012-03-12 06:51

    Screw the Americans

  • malcolm - 2012-03-12 07:30

    Sick people these Americans. They shouldn't be in Afghanistan in the first place. What kind of weak, pathetic individuals kill innocent women children & civilians. The Americans need to mind their own business and stop causing wars all over the globe in the false name of peace. If America eventually gathers the balls to invade Iran, we may see a very different outcome than we have seen against relatively less defensive targets such as Iraq. I suspect Irans oil will be the last oil they ever try to steal.

      Juan - 2012-03-12 08:31

      So where's the oil in Afghainistan? This was one sick bastard, don't paint everybody with the same brush.

      Garth - 2012-03-12 08:59

      malcolm - your brain needs assistance from outside sources. `. . . gathers the balls to invade Iran . . .' `. . .relatively less defensive targets such as Iraq.' Geez, what books HAVE you been reading? Or have you NOT been reading and decided upon this all by your lonesome?

  • ptlpip - 2012-03-12 10:02

    The Afghans never apologised for killing the 6 British soldiers last week, why should Obama apologise? The US and Britain should get out of there and let these b@stard keep on killing themselves.

      Jameel - 2012-03-12 10:20

      Why should they apologize when there land has been invaded, what was the two reasons why United Snakes entered Afgan again ptlpip ?

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