Afghans: US paid $50,000 per shooting spree death

By Mirwais Khan

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, March 25 2012 3:55 a.m. MDT

An Afghan boy prays over the grave of one of the sixteen victims killed in a shooting rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, March 24, 2012. Mohammad Wazir has trouble even drinking water now, because it reminds him of the last time he saw his seven-year-old daughter. He had asked his wife for a drink but his daughter insisted on fetching it. Now his daughter Masooma is dead, killed along with 10 other members of his family in a shooting rampage attributed to a U.S. soldier. The soldier faces the death penalty but Wazir and his neighbors say they feel irreparably broken.

Allauddin Khan, Associated Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Unites States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a community elder said Sunday.

The families of the dead received the money Saturday at the governor's office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai. Each wounded person received $11,000 Lalai said. Community elder Jan Agha confirmed the same figures.

They were told that the money came from U.S. President Barack Obama, Lalai said. U.S. officials did not immediate respond to requests for comment.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of sneaking out of his base before dawn on March 11 then creeping into the houses of two nearby villages and opening fire on sleeping families within.

It was not immediately clear how much money had been paid out in all. Afghan officials and villagers have counted 16 dead — 12 in the village of Balandi and four in neighboring Alkozai — and six wounded. The U.S. military has charged Bales with 17 murders without explaining the discrepancy.

The 38-year-old soldier is accused of using his 9mm pistol and M-4 rifle, which was outfitted with a grenade launcher, to kill four men, four women, two boys and seven girls, then burning some of the bodies. The ages of the children were not disclosed in the charge sheet.

The families had previously received smaller compensation payments from Afghan officials.

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