Afghan civilian deaths spark calls for U.S. exit

originally by: AlertNet
published: 12th March 2012

The massacre of 16 villagers by a U.S. soldier has triggered angry calls for an immediate American exit from Afghanistan as Washington tries to negotiate a long-term presence to keep the country from sliding into chaos again.

Just days before Sunday’s attack, Kabul and Washington had made significant progress in negotiations on a Strategic Partnership Agreement that would allow American advisers and special forces to stay in Afghanistan after foreign combat troops leave at the end of 2014.

But securing a full deal may be far more difficult now after the shooting spree in villages in the southern province of Kandahar, the Taliban heartland, which killed mostly women and children.

“This could delay the signing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement,” an Afghan government official told Reuters.

The attack was the latest incident to ignite anger at the United States in Afghanistan.

It involved an Army staff sergeant, now in U.S. custody in Kandahar, who walked off the Belambai base in the middle of the night and began shooting Afghan villagers in two nearby villages, a congressional source said on condition of anonymity.

In addition to those killed, five Afghans were wounded.

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