In Case You Missed It of the Day

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In Case You Missed It of the Day
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Here we go again: The Army has launched a criminal investigation into actions of the 82nd Airborne Division after the Los Angeles Times showed officials copies of a series of 18 photos of soldiers posing with the mangled corpses of Afghans believed to be suicide bombers. The photos were taken in 2010 and came to light this week; the Times opted to publish two after tangling with the Pentagon, which tried -- no surprise here -- to prevent their publication.

"The reason for that is those kinds of photos are used by the enemy to incite violence, and lives have been lost as the result of the publication of similar photos," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

That may be true, Panetta, but it seems the photos also have been revealed at the worst possible time. In January, a video appeared online showing four Marines urinating on Afghan corpses. In February, the burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. base resulted in riots that killed 30 and led to the deaths of six Americans. And in March, a Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went on a shooting rampage in two Afghan villages, killing 17.

[boingboing]

Afghan War News of the Day

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Afghan War News of the Day
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A US soldier reportedly carried out a brutal slaying of at least 16 Afghan civilians early this morning in two small villages near his base in the country's southern Kandahar Province.

"It appears he walked off post and later returned and turned himself in," military spokesman Lt. Cmdr. James Williams said of the unidentified staff sergeant who is currently in custody.

According to eyewitnesses, the soldier walked into at least three homes in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai and fired at their occupants. Nine children and three women were among the dead, per the latest report.

The deputy commander of Afghanistan's international troop coalition, Lt. Gen. Adrian J. Bradshaw, stressed that this was "in no way part of authorized military activity." US officials further denied earlier reports that the shooting was perpetrated by more than one assailant.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai released a statement demanding an explanation for the attack, which he referred to as "an intentional killing of innocent civilians [that] cannot be forgiven."

The Taliban issued a similar statement, admonishing "the so called American peace keepers" for "once again quench[ing] their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians."

This latest setback for US efforts in the region comes just as fury over last month's Koran burning at Bagram Air Base and January's corpse urination footage had begun to abate.

The US Embassy in Kabul attempted to diffuse the tension by releasing a statement expressing "deepest condolences to the families of the victims," but experts say today's incident may be the "fatal hammer blow on the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan."

President Obama's drawdown plan has US soldiers transferring full security control to their Afghan counterparts by the end of 2014.

[photo: afp/getty via msnbc.]