U.S. Soldier Suspected Of Afghan Shooting Spree Caught On Tape
The U.S. soldier suspected of shooting and killing 16 Afghan villagers in the Kandahar province on Sunday, including nine children and three women, may have been caught on tape.
According to CBS, the video-- which had been filmed by an overhead blimp-- showed the man "walking up to his base, laying down his weapon and raising his arms in surrender, according to an Afghan official who viewed the footage."
ABC News also reported that the soldier was wearing "a traditional Afghan shawl hiding the weapon in his hand," according to an Afghan official.
The Taliban has been voicing its outrage about the shootings:
- A Taliban statement posted online Monday denounced the killings, saying they were the latest in a series of humiliations against the Afghan people and denying that any Taliban fighters had been in the area.
- The Afghan Parliament said it condemned “this inhumane and uncivilized act.”
- “We urge the United States government to punish the culprits and put them on trial in an open court so that the rest of those who want to shed our innocent people’s blood take a lesson from it,” it said in a statement.
Though two of the victims' relatives claimed two soldiers were connected to the shootings, U.S. military officials maintain only one was involved:
- “We are still receiving, reviewing and investigating all leads in connection with this terrible incident, but at this time everything still points to one shooter,” said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, to The Washington Post.
The American soldier, identified as a veteran Army staff sergeant and married father of two, will likely face military justice though Afghan lawmakers have insisted on a public trial inside the country.
If the soldier is found guilty by the military courts, he could face the death penalty, reported The L.A. Times. The results of the investigation are scheduled to be released later on Wednesday.
The event has deepened the tension between the United States and Afghanistan just as the countries had been working toward a more amicable relationship. On Friday, the United States began turning power back over to the country-- starting with one of the U.S.-run prisons.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday and has urged that the tragedy should not hinder the progress being made that will withdraw most troops by 2014, said ABC News. The shootings have made the U.S.'s presence in Afghanistan more unwelcome, which could warrant an earlier departure.
Though there has been anger from Afghan civilians, the reaction has not been as strong as when Qurans were burned at a U.S. base last month.