US compensation for Afghanistan shooting spree. Authorities have paid $50,000 for each Afghan killed

Sunday 25 March 2012

US compensation for Afghanistan shooting spree

Authorities have paid $50,000 for each Afghan killed and $11,000 for each person wounded, say tribal leaders

Associated Press

US authorities have paid $50,000 (£32,000) in compensation for each Afghan killed in a shooting spree allegedly carried out by an American soldier in Kandahar province, a tribal elder has said.

The families of the dead received the money at the governor’s office on Saturday, said Agha Lalai, a Kandahar provincial council member. Each wounded person received $11,000, Lalai said. A community elder, Jan Agha, confirmed the figures.

They were told that the money came from the US president, Barack Obama, Lalai said. It was not immediately clear how much had been paid out in total.

A US official confirmed 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 US 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,” Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings said.

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

Afghan officials and villagers have counted 16 dead – 12 in Balandi village and four in neighbouring Alkozai – and six wounded. The US military has charged Bales with 17 murders, without explaining the discrepancy.

The 38-year-old 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; $1,000 for each person wounded.

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

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/25/us-compensation-afghanistan-shooting-spree

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