KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- A lone American serviceman slipped away from his base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday and went on a methodical house-to-house shooting rampage in a nearby village, killing 16 people, nearly all of them women and children, according to Afghan officials who visited the scene.
The NATO force confirmed that the assailant was in military custody, and that he had inflicted an unspecified number of casualties during the shooting rampage at about 3 a.m. Sunday. The U.S. Embassy called for calm and expressed deep condolences; the Taliban referred to the killings as an “act of genocide.”
The British Broadcasting Corp. reported that the shooter was a staff sergeant and a member of the U.S. special operations forces who had been involved in training the Afghan police.
The incident, potentially the worst atrocity of the 10-year war to be deliberately carried out by a single member of the Western military, represents a stunning setback to U.S.-Afghan relations, already shaken by last month’s burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. military base north of Kabul.
Anti-U.S. sentiment flared into deadly riots after the Koran-burning at Bagram airfield came to light. American officials have said the action was a mistake and offered profuse apologies, but some Afghans, including lawmakers and senior clerics, brushed aside the apologies and called for harsh punishment of those involved.
The shooting early Sunday took place in Panjwayi district outside Kandahar city, in a village called Alkozai. U.S. military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was believed that the assailant had suffered a mental breakdown.
Mental breakdown due to having to risk his life for people who would cut his throat for accidentally burning their "holy" book?
More evidence we need to get our guys and gals out of that ****hole.