Russia: punish those involved in US Afghan massacre

12 March, 2012RT

An elderly Afghan man sits next to the covered bodies of people who were killed by coalition forces in Kandahar province, March 11, 2012 (Reuters / Ahmad Nadeem)

An elderly Afghan man sits next to the covered bodies of people who were killed by coalition forces in Kandahar province, March 11, 2012 (Reuters / Ahmad Nadeem)

Russia is calling for the punishment of those responsible for the for the cold-blooded murder of 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children, and that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) prevents similar acts of violence in the future.

“We hope that the culprits will be punished and that the multinational troops’ command will take effective steps to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents in the future,” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, said in a statement on Monday.

A US soldier on Sunday apparently left his base in Kandahar‘s Panjwaii district, southern Afghanistan, and went on a shooting rampage at a nearby village, entering three homes at random and shooting the occupants inside.

According to Western media, the soldier in custody is a staff sergeant from the state of Washington who is married with three children. He had reportedly served three tours in Iraq, and was on his first deployment in Afghanistan. US officials say the soldier turned himself in at his base shortly after the incident.

The Taliban has vowed to take revenge for the killings.

Meanwhile, US military command has rejected witness accounts that a group of intoxicated soldiers were involved in the incident.

Dolgov described the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians as an “inhuman act comparable to the most severe crimes committed during armed conflicts.”

The Russian diplomat expressed deep condolences to the relatives of the victims and wished those wounded a speedy recovery.

US President Barack Obama has promised that the incident will be thoroughly investigated and that all those responsible will be adequately punished.

The slayings come at a bad time for Coalition forces, which just witnessed widespread protests following a Koran-burning incident at a US airbase near Kabul, the Afghan capital. At least 30 people, including two US military officers, were killed in the violence.

The United States, which has about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, is preparing to hand security duties to Afghans by the end of 2014.

Commencing on October 7, 2001, the cost of America’s war in Afghanistan has already exceeded $500 billion, with more than 1,900 US troops killed (the total number of foreign troops killed is approaching 3,000).

The War in Afghanistan is America’s longest military conflict, surpassing the Vietnam War (1965-1975) in 2011.

Robert Bridge, RT

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