U.S. soldiers in Kandahar province (Reuters / Ahmad Nadeem)
A US soldier has killed at least 16 civilians after opening fire on them near a US military base in Kandahar. There are nine children among the victims, Afghan authorities say.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai qualified the incident as an “assassination” and demanded an explanation from Washington, reports the Associated Press.
“This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,” Karzai said in a statement.
US defense secretary Leon Panetta has condemned the Afghanistan shooting and offered his condolences to President Karzai.
The White House has also issued a statement expressing its concern over the incident.“We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident and are monitoring the situation closely,” said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. An official from the Panjwai district of Kandahar told The New York Times that the US soldier broke into three houses near the military base, killing 11 in the first and four in the second. He wounded a further five.
According to one of the villagers the soldier acted alone and there was no fighting, adding that one of the houses raided belonged to a tribal elder.
The serviceman allegedly handed himself in to US authorities following the incident. The motive behind the attack remains unclear.
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