[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Afghan officials attacked over US killings
Gunmen open fire on team investigating the mass-murder of 16 civilians by a US sergeant in Kandahar province.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2012 05:15

Gunmen have attacked a senior Afghan government delegation investigating the massacre of 16 civilians by a US soldier in southern Kandahar province.

At least one Afghan soldier was killed as the delegation, which included two brothers of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, came under fire on Tuesday, Abdul Raziq, the police chief for Kandahar province, told the AFP news agency.

"There was an armed attack on them from a distance and the firing continued for about 10 minutes," said a local reporter at the scene in Panjwayi district.

"Bullets were coming like rain on us," another witness told AFP.

The attack came as hundreds of students took to the streets of the eastern city of Jalalabad, as anger over Sunday's killings by the unnamed US soldier prompted more anti-US protests.  

About 400 university students shouted "Death to America - Death to Obama", burning an effigy of the US president and blocking the main highway to Kabul before dispersing after about two hours.

Obama pledge

Amid the public anger, Barack Obama, the US president, once again pledged a full investigation.

Our complete Afghanistan coverage

“The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens or children. We are heartbroken at loss of innocent lives," he said on Tuesday.

"I can assure the American people and the Afghan people that we will follow that facts wherever they lead us."

Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, told reporters a day earlier that the shooting suspect would be brought to justice under the US military legal code, and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Asked if the suspect could be sentenced to death, Panetta said: "My understanding is in these instances that could be a consideration."

Taliban threat

The Afghan Taliban threatened on Tuesday to behead US troops in revenge for the killings by the US soldier.

"The Islamic Emirate once again warns the American animals that the mujahideen will avenge them, and with the help of God will kill and behead your sadistic murderous soldiers," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement.

Though the killings have outraged Afghans, they have not yet triggered a similar scale of protests that the burning of copies of the Quran at a US base sparked last month.

Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, a member of the Afghan parliament from Kandahar, told Al Jazeera that many locals were still deciding how to respond to the attacks.

"And once they decide, there will be no army, no force that can stop them," Ayoubi said. 

The US embassy in Kabul has warned its citizens to be on their guard, mindful of the prevailing mood in the country.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.