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Taliban promises revenge against US

03-13-2012 08:43 BJT

The Taliban vowed revenge on Monday after at least one United States soldier shot to death 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan and burned their bodies, fueling anger over the US military's presence in the country after a decade-long war.

A US soldier stands guard as former Taliban members hand over their weapons as part of the Afghan government's reconciliation program in Laghman province on Monday. Tension in the country has risen sharply after the Taliban vowed revenge on Monday for an "inhumane attack" in which an American soldier allegedly killed 16 villagers in Kandahar province. [PHOTO BY PARWIZ / REUTERS]

The Taliban said in a statement on their website that "sick-minded American savages" committed the "blood-soaked and inhumane crime", and promised the victims' families that it would take revenge "for every single martyr with the help of Allah", the Associated Press reported.

At 3 am on Sunday, a US staff sergeant allegedly wandered 450 meters from his base in the southern Kandahar province, killed 16 Afghans including nine children, before returning to base and turning himself in, the AP said.

The attack will further strain the tense US-Afghan relationship, especially since Afghan civilians have already "equated the US to the devil", said Guo Xiangang, a researcher on US studies at the China Institute of International Studies.

Afghanistan's parliament said in a statement on Monday that "the Wolesi Jirga (parliament) announces that once again Afghans have run out of patience with the arbitrary actions of foreign forces", according to Reuters.

Afghans expressed doubt on Monday that a single US Army soldier could have shot and killed 16 civilians in houses over 2 kilometers apart and burned the bodies afterward, the AP said.

The soldier blamed for the shootings is in custody, but villagers told Afghan officials they heard shots being fired from several directions, said the AP.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said its initial reports indicate one soldier carried out the attacks, but they left open the possibility there could have been more, said the AP.

The killings have reignited fury at the US' presence in Afghanistan following a wave of deadly protests over US citizens burning Qurans last month.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for several attacks that the group said were retaliation for Quran burnings. Afghan forces also killed six US troops as violent protests wracked the country.

Guo said US forces have already caused many civilian deaths in the last 10 years. "Hatred from Afghan civilians is a grave challenge for the US' future presence in the country," Guo said.

"As long as US troops stay in the country, similar cases will happen again sooner or later," Guo said.

The attack raises questions again over why US troops are still fighting in Afghanistan after 10 years of conflict and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

US President Barack Obama and top US officials quickly condemned the attack and offered their condolences to families of the victims.

US-led forces in Afghanistan have stepped up security, and the US embassy has also warned US citizens in Afghanistan about the possibility of reprisals, said the AP.

According to the AP, in results from a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Sunday, 55 percent of respondents said they think most Afghans oppose what the US is trying to do there. And 60 percent said the war in Afghanistan has been "not worth fighting".

Republicans and Democrats in the US pointed to the stress on troops after years of fighting and reiterated calls to leave by the end of 2014 as promised, if not sooner, said the AP.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: China Daily

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