BALANDI, Afghanistan — An American soldier opened fire on villagers near his base in southern Afghanistan Sunday and killed 16 civilians, according to President Hamid Karzai, who called it an "assassination" and demanded an explanation from Washington.
Nine children and three women were among the dead.
"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said in a statement. He said he has repeatedly demanded the U.S. stop killing Afghan civilians.
An U.S. official in Washington said the soldier, an Army staff sergeant, was believed to have acted alone and that initial reports indicated he returned to the base after the shooting and turned himself in.
Five people were also wounded in the pre-dawn attack in Kandahar province.
NATO officials apologized for the shootings but did not confirm that anyone was killed, referring instead to reports of deaths.