A number of Afghan families are in mourning after a US soldier killed at least 16 civilians in a night-time shooting spree.
Women, children and elderly men are among the dead.
The man left his base in Kandahar province and entered people’s homes in the early hours, apparently shooting people at random.
One reporter for the AFP news agency said he saw the bodies of ten people in one house alone, adding that they had been burned. Another five people were reportedly wounded.
NATO is investigating what it calls the ‘deeply regrettable incident’. The soldier is said to have suffered a breakdown before the attack.
“All we know so far is that he left the base, he returned to the base after the incident, was taken into custody straightaway and the investigation is ongoing, which will include what was the reasoning and what were the circumstances of his doings,” said General Carsten Jacobson, a spokesman for a NATO-led ISAF coalition in Afghanistan.
Anti-American feeling is already high after US soldiers burned a copy of the Koran last month, triggering widespread protests. Repeated apologies from US officials failed to prevent reprisals.
Washington has sent its ‘sincere condolences’ after the shootings.