Even amidst the daily humdrum of violence during war, certain incidents simply belong in a category of their own. The details of the U.S. Army Staff Sergeant’s war crime (if this does not qualify, I don’t know what does) really have to be read to be believed:
The unnamed soldier, thought to be a staff sergeant, is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 local time (22:30 GMT Saturday).
He then made his way to the villages of Alkozai and Najeeban, about 500m (yds) from the base.
A local resident, Abdul Baqi, told the Associated Press news agency the soldier had apparently opened fire in three different houses.
“When it was happening in the middle of the night, we were inside our houses,” he said. “I heard gunshots and then silence and then gunshots again.”
In one house in Najeeban, the gunman reportedly killed 11 people, setting fire to their bodies before he left.
A relative of the 11 victims, Haji Samad, told Reuters news agency chemicals had been poured over the bodies and set alight.
“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” he added, weeping.
An unnamed woman witness in Najeeban told BBC News she had heard gunfire at about 02:00. A barking dog was shot dead by the gunman, she said.
She added that the Taliban had not been seen in the area for five months.
At least three of the child victims were killed by a single shot to the head, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville reports from Kabul.
Naturally, we are going to hear about how this was a “rogue” soldier, “acting alone”, and how his actions don’t reflect the wider institution to which he belongs. Obama’s press statement certainly touched upon that theme, saying that “this incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”
Sorry, but that’s rubbish. It was only last year when the infamous “kill team” story came out (the details of that story, too, have to be read to be believed). It’s only been a couple of months since the “urinating on corpses” story came out. You wonder about the stories we haven’t heard about. The U.S military may embody a lot of things but a deep respect for the people of Afghanistan is probably not one of them.