The Afghan Army Chief of Staff says the slaughter of 16 civilians, including nine children, in Kandahar province was a premeditated assassination carried out by a number of servicemen, RIA Novosti reports, citing Afghan media.
Lt. General Sher Mohammad Karimi’s harsh condemnation of the March 11 mass murder flies in the face the version of events posited by the NATO-led security mission.
The Top command of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) insists that the butchery was carried out by just one man – Staff Sgt. Robert Bales – who went on a killing spree for unknown reasons.
Lt. Gen. Karimi met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and relatives of the victims on Friday in Kabul.
Saying he had personally visited the villages where the slaughter took place, the General stressed he had repeatedly demanded to meet with the suspect Robert Bales but was turned down cold.
President Karzai has also announced that the conclusions of numerous commissions investigating the crime scenes show the murders was carried out by multiple assailants.
He further stressed the American investigation team refused to sufficiently co-operate with the Afghan side.
The Afghan parliamentary investigation team has reported that anywhere from 15 to 20 US troops could have taken part in the massacre.
The relatives of the victims told President Karzai that the counterinsurgency operation had received air support. They also claim the killers were brought in by military helicopters.
International affairs commentator Rick Rozoff told RT if one takes the methodical nature of the killings into account, “one person could hardly have perpetrated this crime.”
He said there is undoubtedly a clear distinction between so-called collateral damaged and targeted killings:
“This is a very deliberate action, and for the US to try to portray it as anything else is disingenuous,” Rozoff said.
“This killing on Sunday [March 11] is particularly egregious, particularly atrocious because it is a cold-blooded, calculated effort – evoking images of massacres like My Lai in Vietnam [in 1968],” Rick Rozoff concluded.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was arrested in Afghanistan and brought to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is currently staying in solitary confinement. His family has been moved onto the base for their security.
The spokesperson for the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson promised on Monday that the Afghan people would receive justice.
News of Bales' transfer to an American detention facility sparked fury among Afghan lawmakers. They demanded the suspect face a public trial in Afghanistan. Upon hearing the suspect had been whisked out of the country, hundreds of Afghans took to the street in protest.
John Henry Browne, the lawyer for Bales, says his client’s case is not a criminal one. Browne expressed surprise his client had been deployed to Afghanistan despite suffering head trauma and other wounds on a previous tour in Iraq.
The attorney also doubts his client could have committed the crime while intoxicated. He said combat fatigue is the most likely factor driving American soldiers to carry out criminal acts in Afghanistan.
Browne confirmed Bales may face the death penalty.