Afghan Massacre's 17th Victim: Fetus

US had bumped toll from 16 dead

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 26, 2012 7:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – The US military raised the death toll in the March 11 massacre of Afghan villagers from 16 to 17 last week; now Afghan police explain why. The 17th victim was an unborn baby, an officer tells the New York Times: "The Americans are right and one of the females was pregnant, which is why they are saying 17." But other Afghan officials call the new number a "mistake." "There is no 17th person dead. According to our records, it is 16," says one.

Sixteen is the number of dead the US has reportedly paid compensation for, at $50,000 per victim. US officials have also paid out $11,000 for each of six people wounded in the attacks, bringing the total to $866,000. An unborn baby's death could be deemed murder according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even if the killer didn't know a victim was pregnant and even if he didn't mean to kill the fetus; the Times notes that that section of the code is rarely used.

In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, Afghan security forces stand guard outside a home where witnesses say Afghans were killed by a US soldier in Panjwai, Kandahar province.
In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, Afghan security forces stand guard outside a home where witnesses say Afghans were killed by a US soldier in Panjwai, Kandahar province.   (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan, File)
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