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Afghan shooter said to be American enlisted soldier

March 11, 2012 | 11:28 am

Afghanx kandahar
REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON AND KABUL -- A U.S. serviceman who went on a house-to-house shooting rampage in a rural Kandahar hamlet, killing 16 people as they slept Sunday, is an enlisted soldier who acted alone, according to a senior U.S. military officer.

The soldier is in custody after returning to his base and Army investigators are at the base.

It was not immediately clear what military unit the soldier was assigned to. The major U.S. Army unit in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, where the killings occurred, is 1st Stryker Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division, according to the military. But there are also several other smaller units assigned to the area.

"This was not part of a night raid or any operation," the senior officer said. "All the signs point to a lone person acting alone."

He refused to discuss a possible motive for the killings or to identify the soldier's unit.  

The shootings took place early Sunday in Panjwai district outside Kandahar city, in a village called Alkozai. U.S. military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was believed that the assailant had suffered a mental breakdown. Most of those killed were women and children. 

President Obama, in a statement, expressed "condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering. This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan."

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-- David S. Cloud and Laura King

Photo: Anar Gul gestures to the body of her grandchild, allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in  Kandahar province south of Kabul on Sunday. Credit : AP / Allauddin Khan

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