WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. soldier’s shooting of over a dozen Afghan civilians represents another flashpoint from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that could inflame sentiment against the United States abroad.
Local officials said 16 civilians, including nine children and three women, were killed in a nighttime shooting spree on Sunday near a U.S. base in southern Afghanistan. U.S. officials said an American staff sergeant from a unit based in Washington State was in custody after the attack on villagers in three houses.
The incident, believed to be one of the worst of its kind since the U.S.-led military invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, could cause diplomatic problems for the United States as NATO prepares to hand over all security responsibilities to Afghans by the end of 2014.
Following are some other incidents that have occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the last U.S. soldiers left in December in ending the war launched in March 2003.
February, 2012: Afghan workers found burned copies of the Koran at a U.S. military base near Kabul, triggering angry protests against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
In a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Barack Obama apologized for the burning of the Muslim holy book, and the Obama administration has ordered an investigation. Muslims treat each copy of the Koran with deep reverence.
January, 2012: A video appeared to show U.S. troops urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The desecration video, posted on Youtube and other websites, appeared to show four U.S. Marines in camouflage uniforms urinating on three corpses. One joked, “Have a nice day buddy” while another made a lewd joke.
Karzai condemned the video, calling the actions “inhuman” and demanding an investigation. U.S. and NATO military commanders also condemned the actions, and the U.S. Marine Corps has moved toward possible changes against the four men.
September 16, 2007: A group of Blackwater Worldwide security guards were accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians as they escorted a heavily armed four-truck convoy of U.S. diplomats in Baghdad.
The guards, all U.S. military veterans, were responding to a car bombing when gunfire erupted at a crowded intersection. The shooting outraged Iraqis and strained relations between the two countries.
A criminal case in Washington, D.C., brought by the U.S. Justice Department against the five men was reinstated by a U.S. appeals court last year. The case is currently pending.
2004: A major scandal erupted over abuse by U.S. military members of Iraqis held at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, in which U.S. troops photographed themselves humiliating and intimidating detainees.
The scandal led to congressional hearings, apologies by top Pentagon officials and revealed what investigators called a pattern of abuse authorized at higher levels. The photos unleashed global condemnation of the United States.
Reporting by Reuters reporters in Washington, Kabul and Baghdad