Afghan massacre ‘a planned activity’

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REUTERS

An Afghan man sits next to the covered bodies of people who were killed by coalition forces in Kandahar province.

Kabul - Afghanistan's Taliban vowed on Friday to take revenge on American forces after a US soldier was charged with killing 17 civilians, saying it had no faith in any court proceedings.

US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of killing Afghan civilians in a shooting rampage in Kandahar province last week, will be charged with 17 counts of murder, a US official said on on Thursday.

Bales, a four-tour combat veteran, will also face other charges, including attempted murder, but the official was unable to say how many additional counts there would be. Official charges have not yet been released.

“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 by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The lawyer representing Bales said US authorities lack proof of what happened during the March 11 shooting spree in southern Panjwai district.

The Taliban's Mujahid reiterated claims held by many Afghans that there must have been more than one soldier involved in the massacre, claims US authorities have consistently denied.

“Now America tries to deceive the people and tries to blame the act on one soldier. This is a crime by the American government. Using such cleverness and deception is a huge crime,” Mujahid said.

Nearly 11 years after the Taliban government was toppled, the United States and its allies face a resilient insurgency, a weak Afghan government, and an uncertain future for Western support after the end of 2014 pullout.

In a blow to NATO hopes of a negotiated end to the war, the Afghan Taliban said last week they were suspending nascent talks with the United States, seen by backers as a strong chance of ending the decade-old Afghanistan war. - Reuters


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