EXCLUSIVE: Afghan villagers claim massacre was act of revenge for recent IED explosion
March 13, 2012
Afghan villagers who witnessed last weekend’s massacre in the Panjwai District participated in a press conference yesterday. According to the Spanish news agency ABC.es, the villagers told the press that there were more soldiers involved in the massacre where 16 people died and not just one.
“A few days earlier, a bomb exploded when one of their vehicles was passing by a street in Zangabad, Panjwai. Later that day, the U.S. troops rounded up a lot of people and accused them of placing the bomb. They threatened them and said that they were going to get their revenge by killing their women and children,” said Tribal Leader Haji Muhammad Shah Khan. Another villager, Haji Muhammad Hassan said the attack was carried out by a small group of soldiers that had air support.
However, the U.S. and NATO are sticking to their official version that the attack was carried out by only one soldier, a Staff Sergeant based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. The Staff Sergeant was assigned to a special operations unit responsible for ‘village stabilization.’
This is not the first time soldiers from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord have been engaged in violent acts against civilians. Recently, four soldiers from Lewis-McChord were convicted of shooting civilian Afghans for sport just northwest of Panjwai, where this recent massacre took place.
According to a news report by kimatv.com, the Ft. Lewis soldiers “were accused of forming a ‘kill team’ that murdered Afghan civilians for sport – slaughtering victims with grenades and powerful machine guns during patrols, then dropping weapons near their bodies to make them appear to have been combatants.”
While the villagers were being interviewed, a team of Afghan police and military was at the scene conducting an investigation when they came under attack by gunmen. The gunmen evidently tried to disrupt or stop the investigation of the massacre. Two of Karzai’s brothers were part of the team and they were targeted by the gunmen. However, they were not injured.
Hours after last weekend’s massacre, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Afghanistan and told her troops that NATO may not necessarily leave Afghanistan in 2014.