Afghanistan: US soldier murders 16 Afghan civilians?

Horrifying news.

An American soldier apparently went nuts in Afghanistan and gunned down 16 civilians in a village. From the BBC via Threat Matrix:

The soldier has not been named, but is thought to be a staff sergeant.

He is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday) and headed to nearby villages, moving methodically from house to house.

“Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,” Haji Samad, an elder from Najeeban village, told the AFP news agency.

Haji Sayed Jan, from Alkozai village, was quoted by the AFP as saying: “My home was attacked and I lost four family members”.

A delegation from the provincial governor’s office has arrived in the village to determine exactly what happened, a spokesman said.

The soldier – who had reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks – is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings.

The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement that US officials in Afghanistan would work with their Afghan counterparts to investigate what happened.

These are first reports and we can expect some part of them to turn out wrong, of course, but one has to wonder why a soldier who had “suffered a breakdown” was still in Afghanistan or even allowed a weapon.

Regardless, while doing all it can to quell the almost-inevitable furor, the Administration should resist any demands to turn him over to Afghan authorities for “justice.” He should be tried and, if found guilty, punished as dictated by Article 118 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This will almost surely make the riots after the Qur’an burning incident look like Sunday in the park; the Taliban are already exploiting this for all it’s worth. In a tribal shame-and-honor culture, revenge killings are the norm. Let’s hope any precautions taken are enough to prevent other American and Coalition soldiers from suffering for this man’s crime.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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