(Reuters) - Western forces shot dead 16 civilians including nine children in southern Kandahar province on Sunday, Afghan officials said, in a rampage that witnesses said was carried out by American soldiers who were laughing and appeared drunk.
One Afghan father who said his children were killed in the shooting spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies.
Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of U.S. soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar's Panjwayi district at around 2 am, enter homes and open fire.
The incident, one of the worst of its kind since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is likely to deepen the divide between Washington and Kabul.
The U.S. embassy in Kabul said an American soldier had been detained over the shooting. It added that anti-U.S. reprisals were possible following the killings, which come just weeks after U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Koran at a NATO base, triggering widespread anti-Western protests.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the rampage as "intentional murders" and demanded an explanation from the United States. His office said the dead included nine children and three women.
An Afghan minister earlier told Reuters that a lone U.S. soldier had killed up to 16 people when he burst into homes in villages near his base in the middle of the night. Read More