US soldier charged with murdering 17 Afghans

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US soldier charged with murdering 17 Afghans

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A US soldier has been charged with 17 counts of murder after civilians were gunned down in a shooting rampage in Afghanistan.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38, also faces six counts of attempted murder after the killings earlier this month.

He has been held at a military jail in Kansas.

In Kandahar province where the villagers were shot dead, many want Bales to be given capital punishment, something he could face if convicted.

“We demand that the court in America gives the death penalty to the US soldier,” said Agha Lala, an elderly resident of the city. “He must be hanged, because he deserves the biggest punishment. We want a punishment based on Islamic Sharia law.”

Many Afghans wanted Bales judged in their country. Human rights activist Nader Nadery said the soldier’s trial must be transparent.

“We urge the US government to release the findings of their investigation,” Nadery said in Kabul. “It will give more confidence to the public on the proceedings of the trial to update the Afghan public on every step of the trial.”

Initial reports had put the death toll at 16 men, women and children.

The killings have further damaged US-Afghan relations, already frayed by more than a decade of war.