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A rogue US soldier (picture not related) has killed more than a dozen civilians in a shooting spree in Southern Afghanistan before being detained, officials said on Sunday 03/11/2012. A member of the Kandahar provincial council who visited the site of the shooting in Panjwai district said reporters that at least 17 civilians were killed when the soldier left his base early on Sunday morning and opened fire. The incident occurred just 3 weeks after US soldiers accidentally burned pages of the Koran in Bagram airbase in Northern Afghanistan. At least 30 people were killed in protests, which followed the incident (see – koran row 02.21.12). Afghan resentment of USA forces was also provoked in 01/2012 by a video posted online showing U.S. Marines urinating on the bloodied corpses of slain Afghan insurgents — an incident condemned by the Pentagon.

Captain Justin Brockhoff, a spokesman for the NATO-ISAF could not confirm any fatalities in the incident. “This is a horrific incident, and our thoughts are with the families of the affected. Our initial reports indicate multiple civilians – between four and six- are wounded. Those civilians are receiving care at coalition medical facilities,” he said.Civilian casualties have been a major source of friction between President Hamid Karzai’s government and US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. Anti-American sentiment had already been running high before news of the latest civilian casualties.

Najeeb Azizi, a Kabul-based Afghan analyst, said the incident will have deep repercussions on the already tenuous relations with the US.

On Friday 03/09/2012, Kabul and Washington reached a deal to transfer US-run prisons in the country to Afghan control (see also -Gitmo-Transfer 03.10.12).

* The detained soldier has not been identified, although US officials quoted by the Associated Press news agency said he was from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, 38 years old, married with two children, and had served three tours, of half year each, in Iraq and was on his first deployment in Afghanistan.
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* An American soldier, Jeremy Morlock, 23, has pleaded guilty, on 03/23/2011, to being part of a “kill team” who deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport last year. Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock told a military court he had helped to kill three unarmed Afghans. “The plan was to kill people, sir,” he told an army judge in Fort Lea, near Seattle, after his plea. Jeremy Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four other soldiers are still to come to trial over the incidents.
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* The US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in a massacre that has undermined relations with Kabul has been named, on Saturday 03/17/2012, as Staff Sgt Robert Bales.
Senior US officials told the BBC the name of the suspect as he was heading back to the US to face charges..
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