U.S. soldier detained after opening fire at Afghan civilians

March 11th, 2012 - 3:46 pm ICT by BNO News  

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (BNO NEWS) — A U.S. service member was arrested on early Sunday morning after going on a shooting spree in southern Afghanistan, killing as many as seventeen civilians and injuring others, officials said.

The attack happened at around 3:45 a.m. local time when a U.S. soldier opened fire in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. “A U.S. Army soldier, at around 3 o’clock, came out [of his base] and turned his gun at the people,” a spokesman for the governor said, adding that civilians had been wounded.

Few details about the number of casualties were immediately available, but a member of the Kandahar provincial council who visited the scene said as many as 17 civilians had been killed. Major Jason Wagner, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), could not confirm those figures.

“Right now our initial reporting is indicating that there were an unconfirmed number of casualties,” Wagner said, without giving specific numbers. “There were some who were wounded, of course, and those wounded are being treated at a coalition medical facility now.”

A brief statement from ISAF said the U.S. soldier, whose identity was not immediately released, had been arrested. “This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved,” the statement said. “U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A), in cooperation with Afghan authorities, will investigate this incident and release additional information as appropriate.”

Sunday’s incident comes after weeks of violence after U.S. troops were accused of burning Qurans at the Bagram Airbase. The accusations triggered a series of violent protests across Afghanistan which have left more than 30 people killed, including six U.S. soldiers who insurgents said were killed in revenge.

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