Let’s Wait To See If The Soldier Was Provoked! The Afghani’s always give their people the benefit of the doubt, so we should do the same.
U.S. officials have briefed President Obama about an alleged
shooting of civilians by a U.S. service member in Afghanistan as worries grow
the incident could trigger more violence and fuel a push to abandon the
“We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this
incident, and are monitoring the situation closely,” White House Deputy
Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Sunday, after one service member was detained
by his unit following an alleged shooting of as many as 16 Afghan civilians in
two neighboring villages.
According to a government representative for southern Afghanistan and a member of the delegation that went to investigate the incident, a U.S. service member
stationed at a U.S. base in the southern Kandahar province walked off the base
around 3 a.m. local time and walked into three homes and started shooting. He
then returned to his base where he was arrested.
NATO officials apologized for the shootings but did not confirm that anyone was killed,
referring instead to reports of deaths.
“I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province, said a statement from Lt. Gen. Adrian
Bradshaw, the deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
“One of our soldiers is reported to have killed and injured a number of civilians in
villages adjacent to his base. I cannot explain the motivation behind such
callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military
activity,” he said, using the abbreviation for NATO’s International
Security Assistance Force.
Reports are conflicting as to the number dead as Afghan villagers showed to press
photographers bodies covered in blankets as well as burned. Nine children and
three women are said to be among the dead. It was unclear how or why the bodies
The incident comes after some very tense weeks in which
riots raged over the accidental improper disposal of Korans that had been
defaced by Afghan detainees.
The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, issued a statement saying that he is “absolutely dedicated to making sure that anyone who is found to have
committed wrongdoing is held fully accountable.”
The head of the ISAF added that he was “shocked and saddened to hear” about the incident and offered his “profound regret and deepest condolences to the victims
and their families.”
“I pledge to all the noble people of Afghanistan my commitment to a rapid and thorough
investigation,” Allen said, adding that the U.S. will maintain custody of
the service member, provide medical care to injured Afghans and “cooperate
fully with local Afghan authorities as we ascertain all the facts.”
“This deeply appalling incident in no way represents the values of ISAF and coalition troops or the abiding respect we feel for the Afghan people. Nor does it impugn or
diminish the spirit of cooperation and partnership we have worked so hard to
foster with the Afghan National Security Forces,” he added.
A senior defense official added that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was “deeply
saddened” to hear about the incident and is “closely monitoring
reports out of Afghanistan.”
The U.S. embassy in Kabul tweeted videotaped condolences in the primary languages of Pashto and Dari. It also warned Americans in the country to beware of the “risk of anti-American feelings and protests in coming days, especially in eastern and southern provinces.”
“U.S. citizens in Afghanistan should remain vigilant and avoid areas where Westerners congregate. Avoid large public gatherings or demonstrations. Past demonstrations in Afghanistan have escalated into violent attacks on Western targets of opportunity.
“Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers, or in public. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and always travel with mobile phones or
appropriate communication equipment,” the warning reads.
The alleged shootings are likely to spark more violence after a calm returned following the Koran burnings of last month. That accidental incident led to more than a week of
rioting, which resulted in 30 people dead, including six U.S. service members
who were killed by their Afghan colleagues.
The killing of U.S. service members by Afghan forces had already been a major concern in Afghanistan, where since May 2007, 46 “green on blue” attacks — or Afghan National Security Forces attacks on allied service members — has reportedly resulted in 76 NATO soldiers killed and an undisclosed number wounded.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the attacks an “assassination” and angrily
demanded an explanation. Karzai said he spoke with a 15-year-old boy named
Rafiullah who was shot in the leg during the incident. The boy described how an
American soldier entered his house in the middle of the night, woke up his
family and began shooting them.
“This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be
forgiven,” Karzai said in a statement that is sure to incite more
As violence erupts, U.S. officials have debated a faster exit strategy from Afghanistan, which is supposed to be left to fend for itself by 2014. In anticipation of that departure,
the U.S. and Afghan governments signed a memorandum of understanding recently
about the transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan control — a key step toward
an eventual strategic partnership to govern U.S. forces in the country.
Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the alleged incident cannot be explained “except to extend your deepest sympathy to those victims and see that justice is done.”
But, he added, that the U.S. is in Afghanistan because that’s where the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, originated.
“If Afghanistan dissolved into a situation where the Taliban were able to take over or a chaotic situation, it could easily return to an al Qaeda base for attacks on the United States of America. That is still our goal, as it was the day we went in,” McCain said.
Panjawi, the town where the alleged shootings occurred, is inside a rural Taliban stronghold, and is just south of the birthplace of the militant group’s senior leaders, including chief Mullah Omar. Panjawi is a launching point for attacks on neighboring Kandahar city and is a key to securing the province, one of the most difficult battlegrounds in the country.
The Taliban issued a statement on an insurgent website expressing concern for the villagers.
“The so-called American peacekeepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province,” said the statement.