US soldier opens fire on Afghans outside base, 16 possible deaths (update)

Fears incident will rekindle anti-US anger

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A US soldier reportedly walked off his base in southern Afghanistan at 02:00 Sunday 11 March and opened fire on Afghan civilians, possibly killing as many as 16 people, most of them children. Reports on the number of dead and injured conflict, as do local reports that there was more than one soldier, which US officials say is “wrong”.  Early Sunday tthere were reportedly “multiple wounded”, according to the Guardian/AP in the UK, butlater reports that he had killed several people then appeared to be unfounded, according to Reuters and other new agencies, and by Sunday evening Swiss time the reports were changing again.

Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Sunday evening that they were trying to clarify the situation but could not confirm any numbers. Earlier in the day they issued a terse statement early Sunday: “A United States service member was detained today in connection to an incident that resulted in Afghan casualties in Kandahar province. This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved. US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), in cooperation with Afghan authorities, will investigate this incident and release additional information as appropriate.”

The incident follows weeks of tension over a 20 February incident where US soldiers burned the Koran at a US base due to what US officials have called “carelessness” rather than Islamaphobia. The US offered a formal apology and said the burning was an accident. Thirty Afghans and five US soldiers are reported to have been killed in protests and attacks in the wake of the incident, which has also sparked partisan debates in the US over the appropriateness of the apology.