US pays $50,000 per Afghan shooting spree
I KABUL / WASHINGTON
Afghan villagers pray over the grave of one of the 17 victims killed in a shooting rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March 24. AP photoThe United 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 yesterday.
The families of the dead received the money on March 24 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.
A U.S. official confirmed that compensation had been paid but declined to discuss exact amounts, saying only that it reflected the devastating nature of the incident. The official spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the subject. A spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces declined to confirm or deny the payments, saying that while coalition members often make compensation payments, they are usually kept private.
“As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential,” Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said. 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. The U.S. military has charged Bales with 17 murders without explaining the discrepancy. Bales is believed to have carried out the rampage in two stages, returning to base after the first shootings and then going out to kill again, a U.S. official said on March 24. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not offer further details about the investigation into the March 11 shooting spree in southern Afghanistan, which has further eroded U.S.-Afghan relations already frayed by a decade of war. But the disclosure points to an extended timeline for the alleged killing rampage by Bales, a decorated 38-year-old veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff