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Bloody Week in Afghanistan Continues; 16 Die in Helicopter Crash

Karzai, Afghans Want to Punish Solider who Allegedly Murdered 16 Civillians

- Common Dreams staff

A violent and chaotic week in Afghanistan continued today as a Turkish military helicopter, on a NATO mission, crashed into a house, leaving 4 Afghan civilians and 12 Turkish soldiers dead. Military officials are investigating the cause of the crash. Turkey soldiers are serving in a "non-combat" role in Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press. "It is a grave accident. Our grief is deep," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house in Afghanistan today. Four Afghan civilians were killed, in addition to 12 Turkish soldiers. (Photo: AP) The accident is just the latest disaster to hit the war-torn country in recent days. Earlier this week a US soldier allegedly massacred civilians, including nine children in Kandahar province on Sunday, straining US relations with the Afghan government and the people.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked US military forces to withdraw from villages and the Taliban has dropped out of peace talks with NATO. Karzai and many Afghan civillians want the soldier who is alleged to have commited the murders to be tried in Afghanistan, but he has since been flown to the United States."This has been going on for too long. You have heard me before. It is by all means the end of the rope here," Karzai told reporters.

 

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Afghanistan's Karzai slams United States over Massacre, Reuters

A series of blunders by the United States, including the killings in Kandahar province on Sunday and the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base last month, has further strained already tense relations between the countries.

"This has been going on for too long. You have heard me before. It is by all means the end of the rope here," Karzai told reporters at the heavily fortified presidential palace.

Flanked by senior officials, a tired and sometimes angry Karzai listened to village elders and the families of victims of the massacre, and dressed somberly in black for the start of an expected two days of talks to discuss the killings.

Some at the meeting shouted, some demanded answers, but all said they wanted any soldiers involved punished.

"I don't want any compensation. I don't want money, I don't want a trip to Mecca, I don't want a house. I want nothing. But what I absolutely want is the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand and my demand," said one villager, whose brother was killed in the nighttime slaughter.

Furious Afghans and lawmakers have demanded that the soldier responsible be tried in Afghanistan, but despite those calls, the U.S. staff sergeant was flown out on Wednesday.

"The army chief has just reported that the Afghan investigation team did not receive the cooperation that they expected from the United States. Therefore these are all questions that we'll be raising, and raising very loudly, and raising very clearly," Karzai said.

Karzai appeared to back the belief of the villagers, and many other Afghans including the country's parliament, that one gunman acting alone could not have killed so many people, and in different locations some distance apart.

"They believe it's not possible for one person to do that. In (one) family, in four rooms people were killed, women and children were killed, and they were all brought together in one room and then put on fire. That one man cannot do," Karzai said.

 

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US 'did not cooperate' with Kandahar probe, Al Jazeera English

The US military did not cooperate with the Afghan team dispatched to investigate the massacre of 16 civilians by a rogue American army sergeant in Kandahar province, the Afghan president has said.

The accusations came as Hamid Karzai met in his palace on Friday with distraught families of victims of last week’s incident as well as tribal elders.

"The Afghan government didn't receive cooperation from the USA regarding the surrender of the US soldiers to the Afghan government," Karzai said.

Lieutenant General Sher Mohammed Karimi, chief of the Afghan army who led the investigation into the massacre, told the gathering that his delegation did not receive the full cooperation they expected.

He said that despite repeated requests from high-level Afghan officials, including the minister of defence, to meet with the accused soldier, they were not granted access by US generals.

Karimi said he wanted to ask the soldier  whether he acted alone, or was part of a team, as has repeatedly been claimed by tribal elders.

The soldier was flown to Kuwait on Wednesday, and is expected to arrive in a military prison in the US as early as Friday, according to reports.

John Henry Browne, the soldier's attorney, told US media the accused would be held at a maximum security detention facility at a US military base in Kansas.

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Turkish Helicoptor Crashes in Afghanistan; 16 dead, Associated Press

A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house near the Afghan capital Friday, killing 12 Turkish soldiers on board and four Afghan civilians on the ground, officials said.

It was by far the deadliest incident involving Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan, where they have a noncombat role.

The helicopter, a Sikorsky, was on a mission for U.S.-led NATO forces when it went down near Kabul, the Turkish military said in a statement.

"Twelve of our military personnel on board were martyred," it said.

There was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash, NATO said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the helicopter was one of two that took off on Friday.

"Unfortunately, the one in front came down for an unknown reason," he said.

He said there were officers and noncommissioned officers on board.

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