Kabul, March 14 (): According to an Afghan official, he viewed the footage of the U.S. soldier, who allegedly shot 16 Afghan villagers, was walking up to his base and raising his arms in surrender.
The video, taken from an overhead blimp that films the area around the base, shows a soldier in a U.S. uniform approaching the south gate of the base with a traditional Afghan shawl hiding the weapon in his hand, the official said.
He then removes the shawl as he lays his weapon on the ground and raises his arms in surrender. The official had not been shown any footage of the soldier leaving the base.
The official said late Tuesday that U.S. authorities showed Afghan authorities the surveillance video to prove that only one perpetrator was involved in the Sunday shootings, which have sparked outrage across the country. The official spoke anonymously to discuss a private briefing.
Afghan lawmakers have demanded that the shooter, identified by U.S. officials as a staff sergeant, face a public trial inside Afghanistan. They have called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to suspend any negotiations with the U.S. on a long-term military pact until this happens.
“No final decision has been made yet” on the location of the trial, said Col. Gary Kolb, a U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan.
“We have done court martials in Afghanistan before, so we have the capability,” Kolb said. “They’ll take a look at all the circumstances and determine if they do it here or if it goes back to the States.”
Villagers — angry at foreign troops, frustrated with their government and tired of war — recounted the tragedy to a delegation sent to the scene by President Hamid Karzai. Two who lost relatives insisted that not one — but at least two — soldiers took part in the shootings.
President Barack Obama pledged a thorough investigation, saying the U.S. was taking the case “as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered.”
On Tuesday, protesters in the east burned an effigy of Obama as well as a cross, which they used as a symbol of people who — like many Americans — are Christians. They also called for the death of the soldier who has been accused.
It was the first significant protest since the killings, which many had worried would spark another wave of deadly riots like those that followed the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base last month.