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AP photo - Panjwai, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 11, 2012 ... US Soldier Held for Shooting Afghan Civilians (March 11, 2012 ) ...item 2.. US soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians – video ...item 3.. Mail Online - 12 March 2012 ...
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Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, could offer only a few details about the shooting that took place in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar Province.

“What we know so far is that, in the very early morning hours of this morning, under the hours of darkness, a U.S. soldier left a forward operating base in the Panjwai area in the west of Kandahar. He went into the nearby village and shot innocent civilians under circumstances which still have to be investigated, then returned to the base and handed himself in, and he is in U.S. custody at the moment,” he said.
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.....item 1).... Voice of America ... www.voanews.com/english/news ... News RSS Feed

March 11, 2012
US Soldier Held for Shooting Afghan Civilians
Brian Padden | Islamabad

www.voanews.com/english/news/US-Soldier-Held-for-Shooting...
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Afghan National Army soldiers keep watch as Afghans gather outside a U.S. base in Panjwai district Kandahar province, March 11, 2012.

Photo: Reuters

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In Afghanistan, a U.S. soldier has been detained after shooting Afghan civilians Sunday. Afghan officials report at least 16 dead.

Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, could offer only a few details about the shooting that took place in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar Province.

“What we know so far is that, in the very early morning hours of this morning, under the hours of darkness, a U.S. soldier left a forward operating base in the Panjwai area in the west of Kandahar. He went into the nearby village and shot innocent civilians under circumstances which still have to be investigated, then returned to the base and handed himself in, and he is in U.S. custody at the moment,” he said.

Jacobson could not confirm the number of casualties, nor the motivation behind the attack but said a full investigation would soon be underway.

Asadullah Khalid, the Afghan minister of border and tribal affairs, says the U.S. soldier went on an unprovoked killing spree in the nearby villages.

-----11 people killed in one home

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An elderly Afghan man sits in a minivan next to the covered body of a person allegedly shot dead by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, March 11, 2012.

AP

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He says a number of people were martyred in a few houses, in one house 11 people were martyred and in another house many people were wounded and one was martyred.

Both ISAF and Afghan officials have condemned the incident and expressed concern for the victims and their families.

The Panjwai district in Kandahar had been considered a Taliban stronghold in the recent past. In 2010 it was the scene of heavy fighting between U.S. forces and the Taliban. General Jacobson says the military is concerned that this incident could jeopardize progress made to stabilize the region.

“ISAF has made great progress in recent weeks and months in stabilizing an area that was once very much hardcore land of the Taliban," he said. "So we are looking at this incident also from the perspective, does it do any damage to what we are doing, to the work that is done there in the hand-over process of responsibility to Afghan national security forces.”

-----Concerns over anti-American sentiment

There is concern that this shooting could further increase anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan. Relations between the two countries have been tense since U.S. soldiers inadvertently burned Qurans at an American military base in February. That incident sparked a week of violent protests nationwide and a number of deadly attacks against U.S. soldiers. The U.S. military has temporarily recalled staff from Afghan ministries.

An official military inquiry into the Quran burnings is still pending and American soldiers involved in the incident could face disciplinary actions.

Andrew Wilder, director of Afghanistan and Pakistan programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace says this attack against Afghan civilians will fuel more anger against the U.S. but it will probably not significantly alter the complicated relationship between the two countries.

"Afghans are very ambivalent about the presence of international forces in Afghanistan," said Wilder. "I think primarily because they are not perceived to have brought security that is probably the biggest cause of resentment. However, they also fear the rapid withdraw of international forces as they fear that would be very destabilizing. So even despite these kinds of incidents rightfully anger Afghans, I don't think that necessarily translates to the majority of Afghans wanting international forces rushing to the exits."

As late as Friday, relations seemed to be mending as the two countries agreed to transfer full control of an American detention facility to Afghanistan in six months. The agreement removed a major obstacle in developing a strategic partnership that will define a U.S. role in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdraws most of its 98,000 combat soldiers in 2014.

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...US Service Member Kills At Least 16 Afghan Civilians
...Afghanistan Blast Kills Six British Soldiers
...Karzai: US-Afghan Strategic Deal Makes Progress
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.....item 2).... the guardian ... www.guardian.co.uk/world ... News ... World news

Afghanistan

guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 March 2012

www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2012/mar/12/us-soldier-kil...


US soldier kills 16 Afghan civilians – videoAn American member of the Nato force in Afghanistan has left his base in Zangabad, Kandahar province, and shot dead 16 civilians including children in an adjoining village. The soldier was later arrested. The case adds to tensions between the US and Afghanistan over the continued foreign military presence and the deaths of civilians in drone strikes and other attacks

Source: Reuters
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.....item 3).... Mail Online ... www.dailymail.co.uk ... Taliban vows revenge after U.S. Sergeant on SEAL team 'shoots dead nine sleeping Afghan children before burning their bodies' in deadly rampage that killed 16

...U.S. and British officials warn of reprisals against troops after massacre
...Taliban vows to avenge deaths, saying more than one soldier involved
...Shooter identified as Army staff sergeant from Fort Lewis, Washington
...Base regarded as 'most troubled in the military' with history of killings
...'Entered three homes, shot 16 dead after suffering mental breakdown'
...Nine children and three women among those reported dead
...Relative: He 'poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them'


By BETH STEBNER and THOMAS DURANTE
PUBLISHED: 08:54 EST, 11 March 2012 | UPDATED: 04:22 EST, 12 March 2012

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2113410/US-soldier-kills...

NATO troops in Afghanistan are on high alert after the Taliban vowed to avenge the deaths of 16 innocent civilians - including nine children and three women - who were shot and killed by a rogue U.S. soldier who opened fire after suffering a 'mental breakdown' early Sunday morning.

The Army staff sergeant, stationed at a U.S. base in Kandahar, entered three Afghan family’s homes at 3am and began the vicious killing spree. Relatives of the dead said he then 'poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them.'

The shooter is an Army staff sergeant from Fort Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and was believed to have acted alone.

Military officials are investigating the incident and working to discover what made the soldier - believed to be a father of three - snap to such extremes that he would embark on a killing mission.

With tensions rising in the region, U.S. and British officials said they were now braced for a backlash as the Taliban claimed the killings were the work of 'more than one soldier'.

Militants condemned the 'blood-soaked and inhumane crime' by 'sick-minded American savages' on its website and vowed to take revenge 'for every single martyr with the help of Allah'.

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Disbelief: Two grief-stricken Afghan men look into the van where the body of a badly burned child lays, wrapped in a blue blanket

EPA

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Horrific: The bodies of an elderly Afghan man and a child killed in the Alkozai village of Panjwayi district are shown wrapped in blankets

AFP / Getty Images
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img code photo .. Joint Base Lewis-McChord ... Fort Lewis, Washington State

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Station: The shooter was identified by U.S. officials as an Army staff sergeant from Fort Lewis, Washington, which has troubling history

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Initial reports indicated the gunman returned to his base after the shooting, calmly turned himself in and was taken into custody at a NATO base in Afghanistan.

In a statement, Afghan President Hamid Karzai left open the possibility of more than one shooter. He initially spoke of a single U.S. gunman, then referred to 'American forces' entering houses.

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...'They laid down their lives, both of them, so that others could live': Anguish of family who lost two sons in Afghanistan

The statement quoted a 15-year-old survivor named Rafiullah, shot in the leg, as telling Karzai in a phone call that 'soldiers' broke into his house, woke up his family and began shooting them.

Mr Karzai condemned the attacks as 'an assassination' and furiously demanded an explanation from the U.S.
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High alert: American soldiers keep watch at the entrance of a military base near Alkozai village following the shooting of Afghan civilians, after which the Afghan Taliban vowed revenge

AFP / Getty Images

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Little is known about the soldier who committed the atrocities, including his name, but a U.S. official said he is married with three children, and served three separate tours in Iraq.

He was assigned to support a special operations unit of either Green Berets or Navy SEALs engaged in a village stability operation.

Such operations are among NATO's best hopes for transitioning out of Afghanistan, pairing special operations troops with villagers chosen by village elders to become essentially a sanctioned, armed neighbourhood watch. He has reportedly been stationed in Afghanistan since December.

Fort Lewis-McChord is about 45 miles south of Seattle and home to about 100,000 military and civilian personnel.

A former soldier out of Fort Lewis shot and injured a Salt Lake City police officer in 2010, and on January 1, a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran shot and killed a Mount Rainier National Park ranger.
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Watchful eye: Afghan soldiers stand guard outside the houses where 16 civilians were shot dead by a U.S. soldier

KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex features

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Tragedy: Locals people gather outside the houses where 17 civilians were murdered by a U.S. soldier in a horrific house-to-house killing spree

KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex featues

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Four Lewis-McChord soldiers were convicted in the deliberate thrill killings of three Afghan civilians in 2010. The military newspaper Stars and Stripes called it 'the most troubled base in the military' that year.

The attack is sure to further tarnish relations between Afghanistan and the U.S., as it comes weeks after NATO soldiers burned copies of the Koran - the Muslim holy book - sparking a violent protest that has left some 30 people dead.

And the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said British troops could now be targeted in revenge and that the massacre would also erode the vital trust allied forces have built up with Afghan civilians over the course of the war.

He told ITV's Daybreak: 'I think every soldier in Afghanistan, British, American and other allies, will be sickened by a person wearing their own uniform literally going door to door and killing people as they sleep in their houses.

'These are the very people that this soldier and his comrades are supposed to be in Afghanistan to protect not kill.

'You would have to make a very persuasive case that these actions were due to mental stress, that's not to say that the stress isn't there for every soldier in Afghanistan.'

Neighbours said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk.

'They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,' said Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place. 'Their [the victims'] bodies were riddled with bullets.'

A senior U.S. defence official in Washington rejected witness accounts that several apparently drunk soldiers were involved.

'Based on the preliminary information we have this account is flatly wrong,' the official said. 'We believe one U.S. service member acted alone, not a group of U.S. soldiers.'
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TALIBAN DOUBTS 'BLOOD-SOAKED' CRIME WORK OF ONE SOLDIER

The Taliban posted on its website today that 'American savages' committed the 'blood-soaked and inhumane crime'.

It also expressed doubt that a single soldier could have carried out the shootings in houses over a mile apart.

Villagers told Afghan officials they heard shots being fired from several directions.

Abdul Rahim Ayubi, a lawmaker from Kandahar province, said the distance between the houses raised questions about how a single soldier could have carried out all of the shootings.

He said: 'It is not possible for only one American soldier to come out of his base, kill a number of people far away, burn the bodies, go to another house and kill civilians there, then walk at least 2 kilometers and enter another house, kill civilians and burn them.'

Abdul Ghani, a local councilman in Panjwai district, said local villagers reported seeing two groups of soldiers.

He said: 'The villagers said they were hearing machine gun fire and pistol fire from different directions.'

But a spokesman for U.S.-led forces, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, said that their reports still indicate a single soldier carried out the attacks.

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Tears of grief: An Afghan youth mourns for his relatives, who were allegedly killed by the U.S. service member

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Aftermath: Families gather in the Panjwayi district hours after the rogue U.S. soldier opened fire on innocents in three houses, killing 16 people, including nine children

KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex features

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An AP photographer reported that he saw 15 bodies of Afghans - some of them burned and some covered with blankets - in the villages of Alkozai and Balandi in Kandahar province's Panjwai district.

One man told the AFP news agency of his great loss. ‘Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead,’ Haji Samad said.

'They [Americans] poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,' a weeping Mr Samad told Reuters at the scene.

According to Al Jazeera, the soldier went into three separate houses at 3am local time when it was pitch black and shot the civilians, who were sleeping in their beds.
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Bloody Sunday: Afghan soldiers and villagers congregate outside the houses where 17 civilians were killed by a U.S. soldier

KeystoneUSA-ZUMA / Rex features

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Perched: An elderly Afghan man sits next to the covered body of a person who was killed early today by a U.S. service member

AP

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Scene of the crime: Afghan men investigate at the site of an shooting incident in Kandahar province

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In shock: Relatives sat in shock in a van also carrying the bodies of their kin wrapped in blankets

EPA

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Beyond tears: A grieving Afghan sits in a van next to one of the bodies (left) while another man sits in a truck bed keeping watch over the body of a young boy

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Beyond tears: A grieving Afghan sits in a van next to one of the bodies (left) while another man sits in a truck bed keeping watch over the body of a young boy

AP

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A resident of Alkozai, where the shootings took place, said 16 people were killed as the U.S. service member went into three different houses and started shooting.

The villager, Abdul Baqi, said he had not seen the bodies himself, but had talked to the family members of the dead.

‘When it was happening in the middle of the night we were inside our houses. I heard gunshots and then silence and then gunshots again,’ Mr Baqi said.

'Eleven members of my family are dead. They are all dead.'
-Haji Samad

Reports say that 15 members from two Afghan families were slaughtered, as well as an unidentified sixteenth person.

Mr Karzai also said that five people were wounded. Their conditions are unknown.

Defence Secretary Leon Panetta called the Afghan president to express ‘profound regret’ and assure him that ‘this terrible incident does not reflect our shared values or the progress we have made together,’ his office said in a statement.

He concluded: ‘We will bring those responsible to justice.’

Maj Jason Waggoner, another spokesman for ISAF said: ‘The civilian casualties were not the result of any operations. The soldier was acting on his own. After the incident, he returned to the compound and turned himself in.’
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img code photo ... President Obama

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'Deeply saddened': President Obama talks with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai from the back of his vehicle in Chevy Chase, Maryland

Reuters

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img code photo ... Afghan President Hamid Karzai

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Demanding answers: Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the shootings as an 'assassination' and said it 'cannot be forgiven'

AFP / Getty Images

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NATO-led International Security Assistance Force deputy commander Lt Gen Andrian Bradshaw would not speculate the reasoning behind the seemingly random attack.

Mr Karzai said in a statement that he was sending high-level authorities to investigate the shooting and deliver a full report. NATO officials, too, are conducting an inquiry.

‘This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,’ Mr Karzai said in a statement, adding that he has repeatedly called for the U.S. to stop killing Afghan citizens.

President Obama issued a statement this afternoon saying he is ‘deeply saddened’ by the ‘tragic and shocking’ killing of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier.

He said: ‘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.'

The White House said that Mr Obama phoned Mr Karzai to personally express his regret.

The president also vowed to ‘get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible.’

On Sunday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement: ‘We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident, and are monitoring the situation closely.’

There are precious few details on the alleged shooter. Officials have only said that he was an Army staff sergeant who was acting alone.

On CBS’ Face the Nation, Newt Gingrich commented on the escalating tensions in Afghanistan and elsewhere, saying: ‘I think that we have to reassess the entire region,’ noting Washington’s tumultuous relationship with neighbouring Pakistan as well.

Twelve of the dead were from Balandi, said Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family, including women and children.

Mr Khan was away from the village when the incident occurred and returned to find his family members shot dead and burned.

One of his neighbours was also killed, he said. It was unclear how or why the bodies were set ablaze.

To prove that the bodies had been set on fire, Afghan villagers brought out badly burned blankets, the New York Times reported. More than 300 people came out to protest the senseless violence.

An AP photo showed the bloodstained corner of a house next to a large black area that was charred by fire. The charred area appeared to be remnants of blankets and possibly bodies that had been set on fire.

Villagers packed inside the minibus looked on with concern as a woman spoke to reporters. She pulled back a blanket to reveal the body of a smaller child wearing what appeared to be red pajamas.

A third dead child lay in a pile of green blankets in the bed of a truck.
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Response: U.S. armoured vehicles parked outside the a U.S. base in Panjwai district Kandahar province following the attacks as Afghan citizens looked on

Reuters

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Standing guard: Afghan National Army soldiers keep watch inside the base after the brutal attacks

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East meets west: A U.S. soldier, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force the military base and passes a stone-faced Afghan man

AP

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img code photo ... Eagle eyes

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Eagle eyes: U.S. Army and Afghan soldiers were perched in a guard tower at their base in Panjwai following the deadly shootings

AP

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'This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act,' said Mr Khan. 'Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women.'

Mr Khan demanded that Karzai punish the American shooter.

'Otherwise we will make a decision,' said Mr Khan. 'He should be handed over to us,’ he told the Associated Press.

‘I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorised ISAF military activity,’ he said in a statement.

There were reports of protests in Panjwai following the shooting and the U.S. embassy warned travellers in Kandahar province to ‘exercise caution.’

The Afghan Taliban would take revenge for the deaths, the group said in an e-mailed statement to media.
‘The so-called American peacekeepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province,’ the Taliban’s statement read.

The shooting comes after weeks of tense relations between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts following the burning of Korans and other religious materials at an American base.

Though U.S. officials apologised and said the burning was purely accidental, the incident sparked violent protests and attacks that killed some 30 people and a host of anti-American protests.

Six U.S. troops have been killed in attacks by their Afghan colleagues since news of the Koran burnings came to light.
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OBAMA 'DEEPLY SADDENED' BY 'SHOCKING' AFGHAN SHOOTING
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img code photo ... President Obama

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President Obama issued a statement Sunday saying he is ‘deeply saddened’ by the ‘tragic and shocking’ killing of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier.

He said: ‘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.’

The president also vowed to ‘get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible.’

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Age of innocence: Afghan boys sit on the ground near the scene where Afghans were killed by a U.S. service member

AP

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Furious: Afghan civilians gathered outside the military base today; tensions between the U.S. and Afghanistan have been tense at best for the past decade

AP

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In the capital, meanwhile, Mr Karzai said the government still expects to sign a strategic partnership agreement with the United States by the time a NATO summit convenes in Chicago in May.

The agreement would formalize the U.S.-Afghan relationship and the role of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after NATO's scheduled transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan government at the end of 2014.

'The so-called American peacekeepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province.'
-Afghan Taliban

But Mr Karzai stressed the importance of foreign forces leaving Afghanistan to preserve the country's national sovereignty.

Any international forces that remain after 2014 would have to operate under strict guidelines governing their responsibilities and when they could leave their bases, he said.

‘We have a strong army and police, so it is to our benefit to have good relations with the international community, not have international troops in our country,’ Mr Karzai said at a public event in Kabul.
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Retaliation: The political and religious party Jamat-e-Islami burn an effigy of President Obama in response to Koran burnings last month at a NATO base, heightening tensions

Reuters

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The president has demanded that international forces stop night raids on the homes of suspected militants as a condition to signing the strategic partnership agreement.

The raids have caused widespread anger among Afghans.

All foreign combat troops are slated to withdraw by end of 2014 from a costly war that has become increasingly unpopular.
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img code photo ... Prominent Afghan women's rights activist Malalai Joya

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Assassination attempt: Prominent Afghan women's rights activist Malalai Joya said a gunman tried to take her life Sunday

AFP / Getty Images

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Also Sunday, a prominent Afghan women's rights activist said gunmen attacked her office in a western province in an apparent assassination attempt.

Malalai Joya, a former Afghan lawmaker and vocal critic of both the Taliban and of criminality in the Afghan government, said the attack on her office in Farah province was the sixth attempt on her life to date.

Armed men tried to storm the compound before dawn on Saturday, she said.

The attackers did not get into the building but two of her guards were seriously injured and are currently in the hospital.

Ms Joya said she was in Kabul at the time but had planned a trip to Farah soon and news of that may have leaked out.

She said she believes the attackers thought she was in the building.

The shooting spree took place in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province this morning.

Captain Justin Brockhoff, Nato spokesman confirmed a U.S. service member had been detained following the attack.

The wounded are receiving treatment at a medical base and U.S. forces are investigating the shooting with Afghan authorities.
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