World News

U.S. army charges 5 soldiers over Afghan murders: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province have been charged with murdering three Afghan civilians, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

In its early edition, the Post cited Army charging documents as saying the infantry personnel, including one staff Sergeant, murdered the civilians between January and May of this year.

The Post cited military court documents and interviews with people familiar with the case to allege the killings “were committed essentially for sport by soldiers who had a fondness for hashish and alcohol.”

The accused, who also include seven other members of the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade charged with lesser offences, denied wrongdoing through lawyers and family members, the newspaper reported.

The five members of the platoon accused of murder began talking about creating a “kill team” in December 2009 and murdered their first victim on January 25, 2010, in the village of La Mohammed Kalay in Kandahar, the Post said.

The soldiers were assigned at the time to provide security for a meeting between U.S. officers and tribal elders.

Pentagon officials were not immediately available for comment.

Writing by Todd Eastham; editing by Matthew Jones