Families of the Afghan people who lost their lives in the Kandahar massacre have been paid compensation.
The US military gave $46,000 for each person killed, and $10,000 for each person injured, Afghan officials and tribal elders say.
US staff sergeant Robert Bales was charged on Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Meanwhile, eight Afghan police officers and an ISAF foreign soldier have been killed by a bomb in Kandahar province.
They were on patrol when they were hit by an improvised explosive device late on Saturday, officials said.
“Four Afghan local police and three national police, one ISAF soldier and one Afghan interpreter were killed,” Shah Mohammad, administrator for Arghandab district, said.
Family members attended a private meeting with personnel from the US military and the NATO-led ISAF forces at the offices of Kandahar’s governor.
The families were told that some witnesses would be flown to the US to give evidence – and others would be able to participate by videolink – when Staff Sgt. Robert Bales stands trial over the deadly night-time rampage in Panjwai district on 11 March.
Sgt. Robert Bales had been formally charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder, nine Afghan children and eight adults
The US army said on Friday that Sgt. Robert Bales had been formally charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder – nine Afghan children and eight adults.
Afghan officials and villagers say 16 died – 12 in Balandi and four in Alkozai – and the US military has not explained the discrepancy.
Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, was also charged with six counts of attempted murder over attacks on a man, a woman and four children.
The soldier is currently being held at a military jail in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is being held in solitary confinement after being flown out of Afghanistan last week.
His lawyer, John Henry Browne, who has played down reports that his client was drunk on the night of the killings, has said Sgt. Robert Bales remembers “very little” of the incident.
John Henry Browne said there were “no forensic evidence” against him and “no confession”.
Sgt. Robert Bales is the only known suspect in the killings – despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.
His trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice, and he could face the death penalty if convicted.
The shooting spree has further undermined relations between Kabul and Washington. The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales suspected of killing civilians in Afghanistan will be charged with 17 counts of murder, according to US officials.
Robert Bales, 38, is accused of attacking the villagers in their homes in Kandahar province on 11 March. Most victims were women and children.
He was later moved to a military prison in the US after being transported from Afghanistan to Kuwait.
Robert Bales could face the death penalty if convicted.
He would also be charged with six counts of assault and attempted murder, a US official said.
The charges are to be read to the soldier at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, later on Friday, according to the Associated Press news agency.
The Taliban said on Friday that it had no faith in any trial of Robert Bales.
“This was a planned activity and we will certainly take revenge on all American forces in Afghanistan and don’t trust such trials,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters news agency by telephone.
Sgt. Robert Bales is the only known suspect in the killings – despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.
He is being held in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales suspected of killing civilians in Afghanistan will be charged with 17 counts of murder
Robert Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, who has played down reports that his client was drunk on the night of the killings, said earlier this week the soldier remembers “very little” of the incident.
John Henry Brown said there were “no forensic evidence” against him and “no confession”.
He said Sgt. Robert Bales had received body and brain injuries while serving in Iraq and was unhappy about going for another tour of duty. He had already completed three tours in Iraq.
John Henry Brown also said his client – whom he described as “a decorated soldier” with an exemplary record before the shooting – had witnessed his friend’s leg blown off the day before the killings.
The case has undermined US relations with Kabul and led to calls for NATO to speed up its planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Sgt. Robert Bales’ trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice.
The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai accuses the US of not fully co-operating with a probe into the Kandahar massacre of 16 civilians by an American soldier.
The US soldier accused of the Kandahar massacre is on his way to the US from Kuwait, where he was being held, and is expected to face a military tribunal there.
Afghan MP’s had demanded the soldier be tried in public in Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai earlier met relatives of the dead, who demanded justice.
Men, women and children were shot and killed at close range as the US soldier apparently went on a rampage in villages close to a NATO base in the remote Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province.
Hamid Karzai told reporters that the chief of the official investigation into those killings had not received the co-operation it expected from the US.
He also said the problem of civilian casualties at the hands of NATO forces had “gone on for too long”
“This is by all means the end of the rope here,” Hamid Karzai said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai accuses the US of not fully co-operating with a probe into the Kandahar massacre of 16 civilians by an American soldier
On Wednesday Hamid Karzai told the US that it must pull back its troops from village areas and allow Afghan security forces to take the lead, in an effort to reduce such civilian deaths.
The Taliban also called off peace talks in the wake of the killings although they made no mention of the massacre in their statement.
Earlier, the president met relatives of those who had been killed last Sunday. The assembled villagers berated him and urged him to seek justice.
Some of the villagers believe there was more than one gunman, an allegation that has repeatedly contradicted the official version since Sunday when the shootings took place. He assured villagers that he would pursue that allegation.
Hamid Karzai listened as surviving family members from the Kandahar massacre gave their versions of the murders during a meeting in a grand hall in the presidential palace.
“Why did this happen?” demanded one man who lost nine members of his family. “Do you have answers, Mr. President?”
“No, I do not,” responded a tired-looking Hamid Karzai.
The president’s strong public condemnation of his most important ally is certain to frustrate the US which has been trying to limit the damage from these latest incidents as they deal with an unpredictable president.
Some details about the alleged killer also emerged from John Henry Browne, the lawyer who said he represented him.
John Henry Browne said the soldier – who has not been named – had received body and brain injuries while serving in Iraq and had been unhappy about doing another tour of duty.
Speaking in Seattle, where the accused soldier is based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, John Henry Browne denied reports that the accused had problems either with alcohol or his marriage.
Earlier on Friday, a NATO helicopter carrying Turkish troops crashed into a house on the outskirts of the capital Kabul, killing at least 12 soldiers and two children on the ground.
The death toll is the heaviest single loss of life so far for Turkish troops in Afghanistan, of whom there are currently more than 1,800.
Despite the recent string of setbacks, such as the suspension of peace talks by the Taliban, the US has stressed that it remains committed to Afghan reconciliation.
The American soldier who shot dead 16 civilians, including women and children, in Afghanistan on Sunday has been flown to Kuwait, US officials say.
Afghan MPs have demanded that the man be tried in Afghanistan, but the scenario is very unlikely.
Meanwhile an Afghan man who crashed a lorry at an airfield as the US defense secretary’s plane was arriving has died of his injuries, officials say.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was not at risk at any time, US officials said.
Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said the man had apparently tried to ram the stolen vehicle into a group of US Marines at Camp Bastion in Helmand.
Leon Panetta was in Helmand to address US troops, as fears mount that they could be the target of a backlash against foreign forces.
He also met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in an effort to rebuild relations rocked by incidents such as the massacre in Kandahar and the burnings of Korans at a US military base last month.
The attack in Kandahar province has caused outrage across Afghanistan and protests in several areas. On Thursday about 2,000 people demonstrated in the southern Afghan province of Zabul, the second major protest outside Kandahar this week.
NATO has insisted that the detained man carried out the killings on his own.
But the head of an Afghan parliamentary delegation said he has heard evidence from local villagers which suggests as many as 20 US soldiers were involved.
About 2,000 people demonstrated in the southern Afghan province of Zabul after the US soldier shot dead 16 civilians in Kandahar
Sayed Ishaq Gillani, a leading Afghan MP, also claims that helicopters were heard overhead, and that they were seen dropping chaff – a measure designed to protect aircraft from ground attack.
Sayed Ishaq Gillani said local people believe the killings were carried out in revenge for an attack a week earlier in which several US troops were hurt.
The victims were shot in their homes in the remote Panjwai district of Kandahar, which is also the spiritual homeland of the Taliban.
According to the NATO version of events, 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 the area 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”, a Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby said.
“We do not have appropriate detention facilities in Afghanistan,” Captain John Kirby said.
A NATO official later confirmed that the suspect had been flown to Kuwait.
Members of the Afghan parliament had demanded that he should be put on trial in their country.
But 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. Leon 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.
NATO and the US administration have insisted that there will be no change of strategy in Afghanistan. The issue has been at the top of the agenda as the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron makes a state visit to Washington.
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.
President Hamid Karzai called for NATO troops to leave Afghan villages and confine themselves to major bases after 16 civilians were shot dead by a U.S. soldier.
In a near-simultaneous announcement, the Afghan Taliban said it was suspending nascent peace talks with the United States seen as a strong chance to end the country’s decade-long conflict, blaming “shaky, erratic and vague” U.S. statements.
Hamid Karzai, in a statement after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kabul, said as a consequence of the weekend massacre, “international security forces have to be taken out of Afghan village outposts and return to (larger) bases”.
In advance of his visit an Afghan man who apparently targeted U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in a suicide attack at Britain’s main base in Afghanistan died of his injuries.
The civilian had sustained severe burns after driving on to a runway at Camp Bastion at the same time as Leon Panetta was landing for a visit to U.S. troops and local political leaders.
International security forces have to be taken out of Afghan villages, said President Hamid Karzai after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Kabul
The US soldier accused of carrying out the shooting was attached to a small special forces compound similar to others around the country which underpin NATO’s anti-insurgent strategy ahead of a 2014 deadline for Western combat forces to pull out.
The incident has harmed relations between Afghanistan and the United States and “all efforts have to be done to avoid such incident in the future”, Hamid Karzai said on Thursday, warning it also had hurt the trust Afghans had in foreign forces.
The Sunday killings in Kandahar province on Sunday have raised questions about Western strategy in Afghanistan and intensified calls for the withdrawal of foreign combat troops.
The Taliban decision to suspend the talks was a blow to NATO hopes of a negotiated settlement to the war, which has cost the United States $510 billion and the lives of over 1,900 soldiers.
Afghan militants have launched an attack on a government delegation visiting the site where a US soldier killed 16 civilians.
Two of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers and several top security officials are in the delegation in Panjwai in Kandahar province.
Afghan forces are returning fire and it is unclear whether there are any casualties.
The US soldier who allegedly carried out Sunday’s attacks is under arrest.
The unnamed 38-year-old staff sergeant is being held at an undisclosed location.
A senior Afghan official said: ”I can confirm that the Taliban have launched an attack from several directions against a government delegation. The delegation was there to meet villagers and tribal elders. This is an area where the Taliban exist and operate. At this stage, our forces are returning fire.”
The US soldier’s attack in Kandahar has severely strained relations between Afghans and foreign forces.
Anti-US sentiment was already high after soldiers burned some copies of the Koran at a NATO base in Kabul last month, sparking deadly riots across the country.
On Tuesday morning, some 600 students took part in a rally in the eastern city of Jalalabad, condemning the Kandahar attack and chanting “Death to America! Death to Obama!”.
Afghan militants have launched an attack on a government delegation visiting the site where a US soldier killed 16 civilians
US President Barack Obama said the shooting was “absolutely heartbreaking and tragic”.
But he said international forces must be withdrawn from Afghanistan in a responsible way, and would not “rush for the exits”.
Barack Obama said the international forces had to make sure Afghans could secure their borders and stop al-Qaeda from getting back into the country.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said the soldier in question could face the death penalty, if found guilty.
The Taliban has renewed threats of revenge attacks, saying it would behead “sadistic” American soldiers.
Details about Sunday’s shootings are still unclear, but the American soldier left his base in Kandahar in the early hours and went on a rampage in nearby villages.
Locals told reporters how they cowered in fear as the man made his way from door to door, trying to get into their houses.
“I saw a man, he dragged a woman by her hair and banged her head repeatedly against the wall. She didn’t say a word,” one witness said.
The soldier broke into three houses and killed 16 people, most of them women and children. He then burned their bodies, according to reports.
The US defence secretary said the soldier “came back to the forward operating base and basically turned himself in, told individuals what had happened”.
Pentagon officials said they would not release his name while the investigation was going on.
Reports said the soldier, who has three children, had been deployed to Afghanistan in December for his first tour of duty there after serving three times in Iraq.
NATO troops in Afghanistan have been placed on high alert after the Taliban militants vowed to avenge the deaths of 16 innocent civilians killed by a rogue U.S. soldier who opened fire in Kandahar province early Sunday morning.
US officials warned of reprisals after the soldier went on a rampage in villages near a base in Kandahar. Nine children were among those killed.
President Barack Obama phoned his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai to express condolences. But President Hamid Karzai has said the massacre is “unforgivable”.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said a full investigation is under way.
The soldier, believed to be a staff sergeant, is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 a.m. on Sunday.
In the villages of Alkozai and Najeeban, about 500 m from the base, he reportedly broke into three homes.
At one house in Najeeban, 11 people were found shot dead, and some of their bodies set alight. At least three of the child victims are reported to have been killed by a single shot to the head.
The US military said reports indicated that the soldier returned to his base after the shootings and turned himself in. His motives are unclear – there is speculation that he might have been drunk or suffered a mental breakdown. But officers are worried that the attack might have been planned.
The soldier is being detained in Kandahar and the military is treating at least five people wounded in the attacks, officials said.
The detained soldier has not been identified, although US officials quoted by the Associated Press news agency said he was from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, 38 years old, married with two children, and had served three tours in Iraq and was on his first deployment in Afghanistan.
The killings come amid already high anti-US sentiment in Afghanistan following the burning of Korans at a NATO base in Kabul last month.
NATO troops in Afghanistan have been placed on high alert after 16 innocent civilians have been killed by a rogue US soldier
US officials have repeatedly apologized for the incident but they failed to quell a series of protests and attacks that killed at least 30 people and six US troops.
However, the latest incident has damaged already fragile relations between Kabul and Washington.
The Taliban is using the shooting as a propaganda victory, placing President Hamid Karzai in a difficult position.
Angry tribal elders are now demanding an immediate end to US night raids on Afghan homes.
Afghan MPs passed a strong resolution to condemn the killing and demanded an open trial on Afghan soil. However, Afghanistan has signed an agreement with NATO that foreign soldiers should be tried in their own countries.
The killings could further fuel calls for a more rapid withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, US personnel in Afghanistan were warned of possible reprisal attacks.
“The US Embassy in Kabul alerts US citizens in Afghanistan that as a result of a tragic shooting incident in Kandahar province involving a US service member, there is a risk of anti-American feelings and protests in coming days, especially in the eastern and southern provinces,” the embassy said in an emergency statement on its website.
The US embassy in Kabul is restricting the movements of staff in southern Afghanistan until at least 17:00 local time on Monday.
In a statement released by the White House on Sunday, President Obama said: “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.”
Afghan officials also fear there will be violent demonstrations and have deployed extra police and troops around Kandahar.
President Hamid Karzai described the killings as the “intentional killing of innocent civilians” and said they could “not be forgiven”.
This is the first time Afghan civilians have been targeted by foreign soldiers in this way.
However, one US soldier was convicted last year on three counts of premeditated murder after leading a rogue “kill team” in Afghanistan.
A recent poll by ABC News and The Washington Post found 60% of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth its costs. Nearly the same number advocated an early US pullout from the country.
On a previously unannounced trip to Afghanistan, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not be sure German troops would withdraw by 2014 as originally planned, but they were working towards that target.
Sixteen Afghan civilians, including nine children and three women, have been shot dead by a US soldier in Afghanistan entering their homes in Kandahar province.
The soldier opened fire after suffering a “mental breakdown” early this morning.
He reportedly left his base early in the morning to attack village homes.
The White House voiced “deep concern” and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan promised a rapid inquiry.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the attack and demanded an explanation from Washington.
In Kandahar’s Panjwai district, local people have gathered near the base to protest about Sunday’s killings, and the US embassy is advising against travel to the area.
Anti-US sentiment is already high in Afghanistan after US troops burnt copies of the Koran last month.
US officials have apologized repeatedly for the incident at a NATO base in Kabul but they failed to quell a series of protests and attacks that killed at least 30 people and six US troops.
The unnamed soldier, thought to be a staff sergeant, is reported to have walked off his base at around 03:00 a.m. local time, then made his way to the nearby villages of Alkozai and Najeeban.
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.”
Sixteen Afghan civilians, including nine children and three women, have been shot dead by a US soldier in Afghanistan entering their homes in Kandahar province
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 said she had heard gunfire at about 02:00. A barking dog was shot dead by the gunman.
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.
Photographs from the scene showed bodies, some of them clearly young children, placed in a vehicle under blankets.
Some reports suggested that more than one soldier was involved in the attack, and a statement by the Taliban accused Afghan security forces of playing a role.
A delegation from the provincial governor’s office has arrived in the village to determine exactly what happened, a spokesman said.
The soldier – who reportedly suffered a breakdown before the attacks – is said to have handed himself over to the US military authorities after carrying out the killings.
In a statement, President Hamid Karzai described the deaths in Kandahar as “intentional murders”.
“When Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action,” he said.
President Hamid Karzai has been consulting officials in Kandahar by telephone.
Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said US President Barack Obama had been briefed on the incident. She added: “We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident, and are monitoring the situation closely.”
Gen John R Allen, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said US officials in Afghanistan would work with their Afghan counterparts to investigate what had happened.
“I pledge to all the noble people of Afghanistan my commitment to a rapid and thorough investigation,” he said in a statement.
“This deeply appalling incident in no way represents the values of ISAF and coalition troops or the abiding respect we feel for the Afghan people.”
This is the first time Afghan civilians have been targeted by foreign soldiers in this way.
However, a US soldier was convicted last year on three counts of premeditated murder after leading a rogue “kill team” in Afghanistan.
Kandahar is the Taliban’s spiritual heartland and is considered strategically important because of its international airport, its agricultural and industrial output and its position as one of the country’s main trading hubs.
The province has seen heavy fighting between NATO and Taliban forces over the last five years.
Hamid Karzai said earlier he still expected to sign a strategic partnership with the US in the next couple of months.
He said discussions would continue on the precise role the US would play in Afghanistan after NATO handed over security responsibility to Kabul at the end of 2014.
On Friday, Kabul and Washington reached a deal to transfer US-run prisons in the country to Afghan control.