Panjwai Rogue Night Raider: Probably Not a Malingerer
In yet another “isolated event” in Afghanistan that is guaranteed to incite a number of other “isolated events”, at least one US soldier in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province killed sixteen Afghan civilians early Sunday morning. Most of the dead were women and children.
Details of the attack are still emerging. Marcy posted on the event yesterday, and I would especially urge reading the series of comments by MadDog, where he discusses the security arrangements at Forward Operating Bases and poses the very important question of how a soldier could have left the base alone. I would add that soldiers being off base and alone is given heightened concern since Bowe Bergdahl was captured after being lured away from his base. What is even more curious about the soldier being allowed to leave the base is that Dawn reports via AFP that the soldier was “heavily armed and with night vision equipment”.
Perhaps the most important point still not fully resolved is whether the soldier acted alone or if a group of soldiers, possibly even drunk, carried out the attack. In today’s New York Times, we have this from Abdul Hadi, who survived the attack:
“My father went out to find out what was happening, and he was killed,” he said. “I was trying to go out and find out about the shooting, but someone told me not to move, and I was covered by the women in my family in my room, so that is why I survived.”
Mr. Hadi said there was more than one soldier involved in the attacks, and at least five other villagers described seeing a number of soldiers, and also a helicopter and flares at the scene.
The competing narrative comes from US officials:
United States officials and diplomats insisted that there had been only one attacker. A senior American diplomat told a meeting on Monday morning with diplomats from allied countries that the gunman acted alone after walking off the base, first to a village and then to a cluster of houses some 500 yards away. He kept shooting before returning to the base. He is to face charges under the military justice system, the officials said.
While some Afghans had speculated that helicopter-borne troops were involved, the senior American diplomat said helicopters and other troops arrived only after the shooting and that helicopters were used to evacuate the wounded.
Although the bodies appear to have been buried already, we will know just how serious the US is about establishing the number of shooters involved in the attack if they actually visit the homes invaded to recover shell casings and bullets. Even rudimentary forensic evaluation should be able to establish conclusively how many weapons were fired. Slightly more advanced forensics can determine whether all the weapons involved were in the possession of the soldier who has turned himself in.
The few details that have emerged about the suspected attacker who turned himself in are very disturbing on two related points. Read more →