Afghan Students Lead Protests as Word of Massacre Spreads

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Common Dreams

Afghan Students Lead Protests as Word of Massacre Spreads

by
Common Dreams staff

Afghan demonstrators burn an effigy of Barack Obama during a demonstration in Jalalabad. (Photograph: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of Afghans, mostly students, took to the streets in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday to express their anger for the slaughter of civilians by a US soldier on Sunday and to call for an end to the US and NATO occupation that has gone on for more than a decade.

Though in custody, the Pentagon refuses to release the name of the US soldier, who is accused of killing nine Afghan children, three women and four men. Details of his attack, however, continue to surface. Also today, an Afghan delegation visiting the village where the massacre took place came under fire from Taliban fighters. Reports say two Afghan soldiers were shot, and one killed in the assault.

The Guardian reports on the protests near Jalalabad:

Hundreds of students in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday shouted angry slogans against the US and the American soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting spree, the first significant protest in response to the tragedy.

The killings before dawn on Sunday in southern Kandahar province have caused outrage in Afghanistan. But even though most of the dead were women and children, they have not sparked the kind of violent protests seen last month after American soldiers burned Muslim holy books and other Islamic texts.

Afghans have become used to dealing with civilian casualties in over a decade of war. Some have said the killings, in two villages in Panjwai district, were more in keeping with Afghans' experience of deadly night raids and air strikes by US-led forces than the Qur'an burnings were.

But the students protesting at a university in Jalalabad city, 80 miles east of the capital Kabul, were incensed.

There were shouts of "Death to America!" and "Death to the soldier who killed our civilians!"

Some carried a banner that called for a public trial of the soldier, whom US officials have identified as a married, 38-year-old father of two who was trained as a sniper and recently suffered a head injury in Iraq.

Other protesters burned an effigy of Barack Obama.

"The reason we are protesting is because of the killing of innocent children and other civilians by this tyrant US soldier," said Sardar Wali, a university student. "We want the United Nations and the Afghan government to publicly try this guy."

The Telegraph has video:

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Revealed: US soldier dressed in Afghan clothes and wore night goggles to embark on mission of murder

The Scottish Daily Record reports:

The rogue US soldier who massacred 16 Afghan villagers disguised himself in local clothes before the gun rampage.

The 38-year-old staff sergeant, who the Pentagon refused to name, also wore night vision goggles as he went house to house, trying doors and looking for victims.
man at scene of shootings in kandahar by rogue us soldier afghanistan

He murdered four men, three women and nine children, four of them girls under six.

And he piled up the corpses of 11 of his victims – all from the same family – before setting them on fire.

US officials repeatedly stressed yesterday that the soldier acted alone but the bereaved families do not believe them. They think the American army killed their loved-ones.

Their anger, and hatred of the foreign soldiers in their country, is shared by millions of Afghans.

And these details:

The murderer, who gave himself up after the shootings, is a married father of three who served three tours of duty in Iraq before being sent to Afghanistan.

He was posted to the Belambai base in Panjwai district, in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar province, only six weeks ago.

The soldier climbed the base’s fence in the early hours of Sunday, with Afghan clothes over his fatigues and weapons under his robes. It has been suggested that he had either suffered a nervous breakdown or was drunk.

He walked a mile to a village and began checking houses for unlocked doors. He went into three homes at around 3am, killing people in each and claiming 12 victims.

He then moved on to another hamlet, where he murdered four more people. Five villagers were wounded but survived.

One witness said she saw the soldier repeatedly hit a female victim’s head against a wall after dragging her from her house.

The sergeant took off his Afghan robes before the shootings, sources say. He was in uniform when he gave himself up.

He is now being held at a base in Kandahar. A Pentagon spokesman said it would be “really inappropriate” to name him before charges were filed.

The Afghan parliament, who passed a motion saying local people were tired of the foreign troops, called for the shooter to be put on public trial in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon quickly rebuffed their demands. They said: “The US military has strong means to address wrongdoing.”

The soldier was sent to Afghanistan from the sprawling Lewis-McChord base in Washington State, described by army newspaper Stars and Stripes in 2010 as “the most troubled base in the military”.

A “kill squad” of soldiers who murdered three Afghan civilians in 2010 and cut body parts from their victims for “souvenirs” also came from Lewis-McChord.

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'Afghan soldier shot dead' at scene of US killings

Agence France-Presse reports:

An Afghan soldier was killed and a policeman wounded on Tuesday as gunmen opened fire on a government delegation at a service for 16 villagers killed by a US soldier, an official said.

"One or more enemy were hiding there. When the delegation arrived they fired -- one soldier is dead and a policeman is injured. A search operation is under way," interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP.

A local reporter at the scene in Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar province told AFP that two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers were in the delegation from Kabul, along with provincial government officials.

"There was an armed attack on them from a distance and the firing continued for about 10 minutes," he said.

"Bullets were coming like rain on us," another witness told AFP.

Taliban insurgents have vowed revenge for the killings by the US soldier, who walked out of his base in the early hours of Sunday morning, broke into three village houses and killed 16 people -- mainly women and children.

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