Today’s news is full of reports of a “Rogue” US soldier who reportedly left his base in the Panjwayi district near Kandahar and shot up three or more houses in a nearby village killing 16 civilians, including nine children and three women. These reports closely followed the official line given out by ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) press officers but reports from local sources make this lone “rogue” report quite suspicious.
For example, CNN in the broadcast report above begins with the official story, but then mentions speaking directly to a villager who reported more than one US soldier involved in the massacre. This is separate from their reporting on Taliban statements that more than one US soldier was involved and 50 people were killed, a report they say may be in line with Taliban “exaggerations.”
AFP reports that:
There were also contradictory claims about the death toll and confusion over whether there was more than one incident.
“What we know at this stage is that there have been casualties in two villages, Alokozai and Garrambai villages (in Panjwayi district),” Faysal told AFP. “A delegation has been sent to find out how this has happened as well as to determine the dead and injured.”
And an AFP reporter described seeing victims in two villages:
“In one house, I saw 10 people, including women and children killed and burned in one room. Another woman was lying dead at the entrance of the house,” the AFP reporter said from the scene. Among the dead were “at least two children, two or three years old”.
One other person died in a second house in Alkozai village while four more were killed in nearby Najeeban, he said.
In one house, an elderly woman screamed: “May God kill the only son of Karzai, so he feels what we feel.”
Reuters as well continues to report:
Haji Samad said 11 of his relatives were killed in one house, including his children. Pictures showed blood-splattered walls where the children were killed. “They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” a weeping Samad told Reuters at the scene.
“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said Samad, who had left the home a day earlier.
Neighbors said they awoke to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, whom they described as laughing and drunk.
“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where the incident took place. “Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”
Reuters video from the scene – viewable here – appears to show the charred floor of a village house where the victims were burned as reported by the Reuters report above.
The New York Times reports that the “rogue” soldier is a staff sargent from the troubled Lewis-McChord Base (home to the Stryker “kill team” convicted of murders in a similar location in 2010) and goes on to report:
At least five other Afghans were wounded in the attacks, officials said, some of them seriously, indicating the death toll could rise. NATO said several casualties were being treated at a military hospital.
One of the survivors from the attack, Abdul Hadi, 40, said he was at home when a soldier broke down the door.
“My father went out to find out what was happening, and he was killed,” he said. “I was trying to go out and find out about the shooting but someone told me not to move, and I was covered by the women in my family in my room, so that is why I survived.”
Mr. Hadi said there was more than one soldier involved in the attack, and at least five other villagers described seeing a number of soldiers, and also a helicopter and flares at the scene. But that claim was unconfirmed — other Afghan residents described seeing only one shooter — and it was unclear whether or not extra troops had been sent out to the village after the attack to catch the suspect.
US spokesmen’s quick claim otherwise, blaming the massacre on a single rogue soldier who is already in custody, is reminiscent of the announcements made after most civilian casualty incidents in which the US press office claims nothing happened until forced by photos or videos to admit yet another “tragic and shocking” incident, as Obama called it:
I am deeply saddened by the reported killing and wounding of Afghan civilians. I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering. This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.
It must be very hard for the Afghan people to accept Obama’s estimation of the “character of our military” and our “respect,” given our history of civilian murders, Koran burnings and body desecrations. Just in the past few weeks, ISAF forces have killed eight children in one air raid, wounded nine schoolgirls in another, and there are reports of four more also killed this weekend.
Our lack of concern is not unnoticed by Afghan children, as this 13 year old, Zekerullah Jan, tells us in an interview with Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers:
Is your life as valuable as the life of Obamas daughter?
– Her life is very good because shes the child of a minister or king
Arent you as valuable as Obamas daughter?
– ?In terms of humanity, both of us are human beings