Saturday, March 11, 2012
(CBS/AP) KABUL, Afghanistan -- A U.S. service member came out of his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and started shooting Afghan civilians, the provincial governor said.
People were both killed and wounded in the shooting spree in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Gov. Tooryalai Wesa told reporters.
A resident of the area where the shootings took place told an Associated Press reporter that 16 people were killed as the U.S. service member went into three different houses and started shooting. The villager said he had talked to the family members of the dead.
An AP photographer has seen 15 bodies of Afghans that villagers are alleging were killed by an American service member.
The photographer saw the bodies - some of them burned and some covered with blankets - in the villages of Alkozai and Balandi in Kandahar province's Panjwai district. The villages are about 500 yards away from a U.S. base.
A NATO spokesman has confirmed multiple people wounded but has not confirmed any deaths.
Sediq Sediqqi of the Afghan Interior Ministry condemned the attack, telling Reuters, "We condemn the shootings in the strongest terms possible and this will be fully investigated."
This attack could not have come at a worse time, said CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark. Last month, Afghans held mass protests against American troops after U.S. soldiers mistakenly burned copies of the Quran. Six American soldiers were killed in retaliation attacks.
The worry now is how the Afghan public will react to this attack.
NATO spokesman Justin Brockhoff said a U.S. service member has been detained as the alleged shooter and that the coalition had reports of "multiple wounded" but none killed. The wounded were receiving treatment at NATO medical facilities, he said.
U.S. forces are investigating the shooting in cooperation with Afghan authorities, Brockhoff said. He said it was not clear if the alleged shooter knew the victims.
There were reports of protests following the shooting.
The shooting comes after weeks of tense relations between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts following the burning of Qurans and other religious materials at an American base. Though U.S. officials apologized and said the burning was an accident, the incident sparked violent protests and attacks that killed some 30 people.