Taliban vows revenge for Afghan shootings
(CBS News) The Taliban promised revenge Monday for the alleged massacre of 16 Afghan civilians by an American soldier, an incident which may pose the biggest threat yet to the shaky U.S. alliance with Afghanistan's government.
U.S. forces have boosted security in Kandahar province, where the shootings happened on Sunday. There is a fear of reprisal attacks against Westerners, but no widespread protests were reportedly early Monday morning.
The Taliban vowed revenge in a statement against what they called "sick-minded American savages" following the killings.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is demanding an explanation from U.S. forces into how this attack could have happened, and has called the incident, "an assassination," saying the killing of civilians cannot be forgiven.
Local villagers want the soldier handed over to them, so they can ensure justice is done.
Afghan parliamentarians, meanwhile, demanded the soldier be tried in an open court in Afghanistan, though that is also unlikely to happen. The soldier will most likely face a military tribunal in the U.S., and Afghan anger will continue to build.(CBS News consultant Jere Van Dyk discusses Afghans' reactions and possible ramifications after 16 civilians were killed in a shooting rampage. Watch at left.)
The U.S. Army staff sergeant's rampage began at 3 a.m. local time on Sunday. The 38-year-old suspect allegedly walked off his remote base and went to two villages nearby, going house-to-house and shooting civilians. Nine children and three women died in the massacre.
"He dragged the boys by their hair and shot them in the mouth," one distraught local woman told media.
Other villagers say he then bundled up the dead in blankets and set them on fire. Their charred remains of were taken to a nearby American base for investigation.
After the shootings, the soldier allegedly returned to his base and turned himself into American forces.
The suspect, from the Army's Stryker Brigade, was assigned to support a special operations unit engaged in a village stability operation. Now the stability of the entire country has been called into question.
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