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Afghans angry that shooting suspect flown out of country (+video)

The US military says it is standard procedure to move the suspect, but many Afghans are demanding the US soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Kandahar face justice in the country.

By Staff writer / March 15, 2012

Afghans burn an effigy depicting U.S. President Barack Obama, following Sunday's killing of civilians in Panjwai, Kandahar by a U.S. soldier, during a protest in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, March 13.

Rahmat Gul/AP

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The US soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province was flown to Kuwait, prompting fresh outrage among Afghans who wanted to see him stand trial in the country. The move also potentially jeopardizes a US-Afghanistan agreement to keep advisers in the country after the troop withdrawal.

Unaware that the soldier had already been taken out of the country, hundreds of Afghans took to the streets in the nearby province of Zabul to demand his trial in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports. Kandahar lawmaker Mohammed Nayem Hamidzai told the Post that news of the soldier’s departure would likely spur “fresh outrage.”

US military spokesman Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said the Afghan government knew of US plans to take the suspect out of the country and called it “routine standard operating procedure” when preparing to try someone in the military justice system, The Washington Post reports. No charges have yet been filed.

The soldier is accused of walking off his base in southern Afghanistan and into a village in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar on March 11, and shooting the victims in their homes. Afterward, he turned himself in, and was held by the US military in Afghanistan until he was flown out to Kuwait.

"This is really about being able to ensure that we can execute this investigation and the judicial proceedings fairly and properly," said Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the second most senior US commander in Afghanistan, according to Reuters.

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