The US has been prosecuting the war in Afghanistan for more than 10 years. The loss of civilian lives at the hands of a US soldier is complicating the winding down.
The US soldier is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians by opening fire on villagers near his base in Kandahar province in Afghanistan.
The soldier was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan after serving three tours in Iraq.
Reports say, the soldier left his base before dawn Sunday and went on a murderous rampage which killed mostly women and children.
The United Nations today voiced shock and sadness at the loss of civilian lives in the southern Afghan province.
The United Nations called for a full investigation to establish the facts behind the tragic incident.
“We express our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.” – UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
The US Government has not released the soldier’s identity pending further investigation. Protesting Afghans have called for the soldier to be tried in Afghanistan, but the US government is not likely to agree to that.
UNAMA called for the investigation to “rapidly establish the facts” surrounding the incident and bring those responsible to justice.
Earlier this year, the UN office was attacked by angry Afghans following incidents that U.S. soldiers allegedly burned copies of Koran at the coalition-run Bagram Air Base in the northeastern Afghan province of Parwan.
UNAMA is mandated to assist and support the government of Afghanistan in its state-building and development efforts, and coordinate and harmonise international assistance to the country.
UNAMA has been in place since March 2002, when following the fall of the Taliban, the Bonn Agreement established an interim Government and prescribed the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of elections.
In June last year, President Obama announced a drawdown of 10,000 U.S. troops, by the end of 2011, with an additional 23,000 troops leaving by summer 2012. Currently, around 80,000 US troops are still in Afghanistan. Many other countries are also in Afghanistan, supporting the effort, training Afghans and fighting the Taliban.
In the past year, a number of coalition troops, including several Australians and Americans, have been killed by Afghans they were training.
This incident is putting obvious pressure on the handover to Afghans and the withdrawal of foreign troops, as Afghans protest, and President Obama, who stepped up the campaign, tries to decide what to do next.