Hundreds of students in eastern Afghanistan are holding the first significant protest against a U.S. soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians in a shooting spree.
The students shouted angry slogans on Tuesday against the soldier in the eastern city of Jalalabad and carried banners calling for his public trial.
Some of the protesters were constructing an effigy of President Barack Obama that they planned to burn.
Sunday's killings in Kandahar province have caused outrage in Afghanistan, but have not sparked the kind of violent protests seen last month after American soldiers burned Muslim holy books, says Fox News.
U.S. officials have said the soldier acted alone, leaving his base in southern Afghanistan and opening fire on sleeping families. After the massacre, he went back to his base and turned himself in, officials said.
The military will not identify the soldier until charges are filed, Pentagon spokesman William Speaks told msnbc.com Monday. The suspect remains in Afghanistan while the attack is being investigated.
According to military officials, the soldier will be tried within the military justice system, not turned over to Afghan authorities for trial, rebuffing a call from Afghan lawmakers to use their courts. The suspect is based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. He has been identified as a staff sergeant in the Stryker brigade who was taking part in a village stability operation in Afghanistan. He is a 38-year-old married father of two on his first deployment to Afghanistan after three previous deployments in Iraq, informs msnbc.com.
An official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity said the soldier was assigned to assist a special operations unit of either the Green Berets or Navy SEALs.
"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.
Afghans have expressed doubt that a single soldier could have carried out the shootings in houses over two kilometres apart, but the U.S. has insisted only one person was involved, according to CTV.ca.
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