Karzai calls attack that killed 16 ‘act of terror’

March 31st, 2012

Sixteen Afghan civilians were allegedly killed last week by United States Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

Although some witness accounts say there were multiple U.S. soldiers involved, NATO maintains that this was the act of one rogue soldier.

Witnesses told The Associated Press that they awoke to the sound of gunfire in their neighborhood.

Haji Samad, who lives in Panjwai where the attacks took place, told Reuters that all 11 of his relatives, including children and grandchildren, were killed.

“They [Americans] poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” Samad said at the scene.

The attacks have drawn outrage from many of the leaders of both Afghanistan, and the United States. Bales allegedly snuck off base in southern Afghanistan and travelled on foot to Panjwai, where he went from house to house killing the residents, which included nine children, and then setting their bodies on fire.

Acting U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham issued a video statement saying that the United States deplores the acts, and that anyone involved will be “brought to justice.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement saying, “The murdering of innocent people intentionally by an American soldier is an act of terror that is unforgivable.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Eklil Hakimi, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, said, “We do trust the United States and we do know how important this relationship is, and we are working as a partner to resolve all the issues as a partner.”

The same day however, a Washington Times reporter stated that the president took a very tough stance against the United States’ lack of action on the issue thus far, claiming that the Obama administration is not doing enough to achieve justice for the families of the Afghan families.

Karzai said, “This behavior cannot be tolerated. It is past, past, past the time.”

Bales, who is currently being held in isolation at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., was on his fourth deployment, the first three having been served in Iraq, where it is reported that he saw large amounts of heavy combat, and sustained multiple injuries, including a head wound, and losing part of his foot.

Bales complained to his wife about having been recently passed over for promotion, having his house recently put up for short sale, and seeing friends badly injured in combat.

Bales also reportedly owed $1.5 million, over a securities fraud charge from 2003.

John Henry Browne, Bales’ attorney, met with him for three hours Monday afternoon.

Bales, who as of Tuesday had yet to be charged, claims to remember very little of what happened before and after the killings, and nothing during the time that they were supposed to have occurred, according to Browne.

Browne, a civilian criminal defense attorney,  is most well-known for having defended the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, and is joined by Maj. Thomas Hurley, a defense attorney for the military.

The official charges and location for a trial are expected to be forthcoming.