US and Afghan officials alike are scrambling in the wake of today's rampage that claimed the lives of 16 Afghan civilians, as relations between the two nations threaten to boil over. The latest reactions, along with emerging details:
- Reuters has the most incendiary report, alleging that more than one US servicemember was involved in the shooting spree, and that the Americans were "laughing and appeared drunk." "They were all drunk and shooting all over the place. Their bodies were riddled with bullets," a neighbor says. Adds a father who lost his children, "They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them."
- Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as "an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians (which) cannot be forgiven." Karzai demanded an explanation from the US, and confirmed that nine children and three women were among the dead.
- US and NATO sources are sticking to the report of a lone gunman, with NATO's deputy commander offering his "profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member," and emphasizing that "such callous acts" were "in no way" authorized.
- From the White House: "We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident and are monitoring the situation closely," said a National Security Council spokeswoman.
- An AP photographer was shown the bodies—some of which were charred—of 15 victims.
- The US Embassy in Kabul warned today against the possibility of reprisal attacks on US targets, reports Reuters.