Monday, March 12, 2012

Mourning, anger sweep Afghanistan after massacre

An American staff sergeant is in custody after allegedly killing 16 civilians, including nine children, in a shooting spree in Afghanistan. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

By and news services

Afghanistan's parliament on Monday condemned the massacre of 16 civilians by a U.S. soldier, with some legislators calling on President Hamid Karzai to step down.

"The Wolesi Jirga (parliament) announces that once again Afghans have run out of patience with the arbitrary actions of foreign forces," the parliament said in a statement.

The country's lower house of parliament closed in protest on Monday and some legislators called for President Hamid Karzai and his vice president to resign if they couldn't ensure security for ordinary Afghans, Pajhwok Afghan News reported.

Taliban vow 'revenge' after US soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians

Legislator Hamidzai Lalai rejected American and NATO claims that only one person was involved in the killings as they occured over two miles away from the military base, Pajhwok reported.? Besides, the attacker returned to this base after the incident, he said, according to the news service.

Contrary to legislator's claims, however, BBC News reported that the villages were just 500 yards from the base.

Reports of the attack vary. U.S. officials maintain only one soldier was involved, while villagers and other Afghans said it was?a group of soldiers. But? the Obama administration vowed a rapid investigation and promised to hold whoever was behind the violence fully responsible.

Top Talkers: The Morning Joe panel ? including NBC News' Andrea Mitchell and Jim Miklaszewski, Mike Barnicle, former DLC chair Harold Ford Jr., and former campaign strategist for Sen. John McCain, Steve Schmidt ? discusses U.S. and Afghan response to a U.S. soldier's shooting of 16 Afghan civilians over the weekend.

The soldier suspected of being responsible?has been detained but has yet to be identified. However,?a senior U.S. defense official confirmed to?NBC News that he is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash.

Report: Suspect is Iraq veteran with 2 kids

A resident of Panjwai Abdul Samad?told BBC News that the community already lived under virtual curfew before the attack that left 16 dead, including nine children.

"We have been restricted by the government and Taliban not to move around during the night," he reportedly said.

It had already been a restive night before the attack and aircraft were heard overhead at around midnight, Samad said.?At some time between 01:00 a.m.??(4:30 p.m. ET) and 01:30 a.m.?Samad said he heard the sound of helicopters and gunfire, according to the BBC.?

A female eyewitness told the BBC she heard gunshots at 02:00 a.m.

Retired General Barry McCaffrey, an NBC News military analyst, talks to TODAY's Matt Lauer about what could have possibly driven a U.S. soldier to killed 16 civilians, including nine children, in Afghanistan.

By Monday, villagers had largely buried their dead?within hours of the attack,?in line with Islamic custom, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Mourners also staged processions and ceremonies Monday, the chief of police in Panjwai district Sardar Mohammad Nazari told the newspaper.

He and other community leaders asked for calm.

"We asked the people to show restraint and then sent them back to their homes," he told the newspaper. staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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