Monday, 12 March 2012

American soldier suspected in Afghanistan 16 killings

The U.S. Army gunman suspected of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a bloody, lone-wolf rampage on Sunday hails from a Washington State military base with a dark history of violence, suicide and suspected medical misconduct.
Military officials have not identified the accused shooter, but he was reported to be a 38-year-old married staff sergeant and father of two from a Stryker Brigade based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
He served three tours in Iraq and was deployed in December to Afghanistan, where he was assigned to support a special ops unit that was training local militiamen, The Associated Press reported.

The murder spree in Kandahar Province, which included among the dead three women and nine children, was the latest incident to cast a dark cloud over Lewis-McChord, home to some 100,000 soldiers and civilians and one of the largest bases in the U.S.
Most notably, the sprawling complex of brick buildings and training fields about 45 miles south of Seattle was home to four soldiers convicted of forming a rogue death squad to hunt Afghan civilians for sport in 2010.
Nearly a dozen Lewis-McChord soldiers were court martialed in that scandal for charges that included drug use, threatening other soldiers to keep them from "snitching," and covering up the atrocities.
U.S. soldiers keep watch at the entrance of a military base near Alkozai village following the shooting of Afghan civilians by a suspected rogue soldier.
The scandal reached its peak in November, when Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, the kill team's ringleader, was sentenced to life in prison after a weeklong trial during which he admitted to pocketing corpses' fingers and teeth as war souvenirs.
The base has also been plagued by a rising number of suicides by heroes coming home from the front lines — a larger trend at forts across the country as an increasing number of soldiers serve multiple deployments overseas.

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