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Afghan shootings: US soldier suspect flown out

Category: Headlines

Published: 14th Mar 2012 23:39:01

The American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday has been flown out of the country.

Officials say legal proceedings against the unnamed staff sergeant will now be conducted in another country. It is not clear where he has been taken.

The victims were shot in their homes, causing outrage across Afghanistan.

The transfer coincides with a visit by US defence secretary Leon Panetta. His arrival in Afghanistan was marred by an incident involving a vehicle.

A stolen pick-up truck was driven at high speed onto the runway where Mr Panetta's plane was intended to stop at the British base in Helmand province, Camp Bastion.

The vehicle ended crashing into a ditch and bursting into flames. The Afghan driver suffered burns and has been arrested.

A Nato serviceman was injured when the vehicle was stolen. Neither Mr Panetta nor anyone on board the plane was at risk at any time, officials said.

The defence secretary was in Helmand to address US troops, as fears mount that they could be the target of a backlash against foreign forces.

He has since left the province for the capital, Kabul.

His visit comes amid growing anger in Afghanistan over the role of foreign forces - especially the killing of civilians.

The staff sergeant, who has not been named or charged, allegedly left his base in southern Afghanistan before dawn on Sunday, entered several houses in a village and shot men, women and children at close range.

The soldier was held by the US military in Kandahar until Wednesday evening, when he was flown out of the country "based on legal recommendation", Pentagon spokesman Capt John Kirby said.

"We do not have appropriate detention facilities in Afghanistan," Capt Kirby said.

Members of the Afghan parliament had demanded that he should be put on trial in their country.

But the BBC's Paul Adams in Washington says this was never going to happen. The US has always insisted that charges of wrongdoing by its soldiers be dealt with within the American military legal system.

US officials say the soldier handed himself in. Mr Panetta has said that if found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

Officials said the soldier had completed several tours in Iraq but was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have promised revenge attacks.

Nato and the US administration have insisted that there will be no change of strategy in Afghanistan.

Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) plans to withdraw all of its combat forces by the end of 2014. American troops are also following that timetable.

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BBC News, 2012. Afghan shootings: US soldier suspect flown out [Online] (Updated 14th Mar 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1416480/Afghan-shootings-US-soldier-suspect-flown-out [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]

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