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Afghan Defense Ministry condemns killing civilians by NATO soldier

(Xinhua)

13:48, March 12, 2012

KABUL, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Afghan Defense Ministry has condemned the reported killing of over a dozen civilians in southern Kandahar province by a soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Sunday morning and called for the punishment of those responsible for the callous act, a statement released here said.

"The Defense Ministry condemns in its strongest term the killing of 15 innocent civilians and injuring nine others including women, men, old and young people by NATO-led troops in Zangabad village, Panjwai district of Kandahar province," the statement added.

The statement noted, "Afghan Defense Ministry wants ISAF officials to bring to justice at its earliest those responsible for committing the inhumane and heinous crime."

According to locals, 16 people, all civilians including women and children lost their lives when a soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) walks out from his base early in the morning and opened indiscriminate fire on the neighborhood around and inflicting the casualties.

Meantime, some people in Zangabad village claim they had saw a chopper over the affected area and heard big bang.

However, the security in-charge in southern region Assadullah Khalid said investigation is underway to determine the fact behind the tragic incident.

Earlier Sunday, Kandahar provincial governor Toryali Weesa told a press briefing that a U.S. soldier opened fire on civilians in the wee hours Sunday in Zangabad area of Panjwai district leaving several civilians dead or injured.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) detained a U.S. service member in connection to an incident that resulted civilian casualties in Kandahar province, the ISAF forces said in a statement released here.

Meantime, ISAF Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Adrian J. Bradshaw expressed his regret over the tragic incident and promised to investigate and punish those behind the crime.

"In my role as in-theatre Commander of ISAF in General Allen' s temporary absence on duty, I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province," the deputy commander said in a statement released here in the afternoon.

He also noted that, "An investigation is already underway and every effort will be made to establish the facts and hold anyone responsible to account."

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