US Pays Afghans $50K Per Shooting Death

1:38 PM, Mar 25, 2012   |    comments
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that the United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a U.S. soldier.

The AP said they information was confirmed by an Afghan official and a community elder on Sunday.

Family members of those killed received the money Saturday at the governor's office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai.

According to Lalai, each wounded person received $11,000. Community elder Jan Agha confirmed the same figures. Community leaders in Afghan said they were told the money came from U.S. President Barack Obama.

A U.S. official confirmed that compensation had been paid but declined to discuss exact amounts, saying only that it reflected the devastating nature of the incident. The official spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

A spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces declined to confirm or deny the payments, saying that while coalition members often make compensation payments, they are usually kept private. "As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of sneaking out of his base before dawn on March 11 then creeping into houses in two nearby villages and opening fire on sleeping families within.

It was not immediately clear how much money had been paid out in all. Afghan officials and villagers have counted 16 dead 12 in the village of Balandi and four in neighboring Alkozai  and six wounded. The U.S. military has charged Bales with 17 murders without explaining the discrepancy.

The 38-year-old soldier is accused of using his 9mm pistol and M-4 rifle, which was outfitted with a grenade launcher, to kill four men, four women, two boys and seven girls, then burning some of the bodies. The ages of the children were not disclosed in the charge sheet.

The families had previously received smaller compensation payments from Afghan officials $2,000 for each death and $1,000 for each person wounded.

Families of the dead declined to comment on any payments by U.S. officials on Sunday, but some of them said the previous day that they were less concerned with monetary payments than with seeing the perpetrator punished.

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