Saturday, 17 March 2012 19:19
Last Updated on Sunday, 18 March 2012 13:30
Written by Saleha Sadaat
As many as 20 soldiers were involved in Sunday's killing of 16 Afghan civilians in the Panjwai district of Kandahar, the Afghan Parliamentary delegation investigating the incident said Saturday.
The delegation, sent to Kandahar by the Afghan House of Representatives, reported that two groups of soldiers, totaling 15 to 20 troops, carried out a planned attack with air support, killing nine children and seven other civilians.
The delegation recommended the "soldiers must stand public trial in Afghanistan" in presenting its report to the Afghan House of Representatives on Saturday.
"About 15 to 20 persons were seen, as well as two helicopters and an aircraft in the sky of the village while the operation took place," Shakila Hashimi, the parliamentary member who presented the report, said.
"This brutal action took place with two groups and it had already been planned and deliberated on."
Another member of the Afghan Parliament from Kandahar, Mohammad Naeem Lali Hamidzai commented: "Neighbouring countries, Taliban, foreigners, and on the other hand the government: we don't know from which oppression we should save ourselves."
But the US investigation has repeatedly maintained that only one soldier was behind the assassination.
A surveillance video captured by a blimp that surveys the area around the base shows that the soldier later approached the south gate of the base with an Afghan shawl covering the weapon in his hands, according to an Afghan official who was shown the footage. He is seen laying down his weapon and raising his hands in a gesture of surrender.
The US investigation has explained that witnesses who claim to have seen more than one soldier could be confused because the army base sent out soldiers afterwards to investigate the incident and help gather the dead and the wounded.
The lone US soldier accused of the carrying out the massacre was named as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales on Friday, and has been moved to a maximum security prison in the US.