Where did U.S. soldiers get the idea that it was OK to shoot the wounded?
Several American soldiers are under investigation in the shooting deaths of two Afghan villagers last Friday afternoon outside the United States base here in western Afghanistan, the commander of the base, Lt. Col. Ashton Hayes, said Thursday.
Witnesses and local officials said the two villagers were shot as they fled across a field. Two witnesses said in an interview that two American soldiers then approached one of the Afghans, who was wounded, and shot him dead at close range.
“They did it on purpose, I think,” said Muhammad Ismail, 30, the brother of Naib, 22, whom friends said they saw being shot as he lay on the ground. “I am really angry about the Americans.” The witnesses said the Americans were Special Forces soldiers, but that could not be confirmed.
The incident has angered the residents of Moghalan, a village nearby where the two men lived, and prompted a demonstration on Saturday where young men shouted, “Death to America.”
The men who were killed, Naib, and Rasul, also 22, were cutting firewood beside the road at 5 p.m. when a car of Afghan National Army soldiers drove past, followed by Special Forces soldiers in a black sport utility vehicle. At the sight of the S.U.V., the two men dropped their work and fled across the field toward the village, said two witnesses, Taj Muhammad, 22, and Hamidullah, 22, both friends of the dead men who were sitting nearby chatting with a third friend as they watched over a flock of sheep.
They said they saw four American soldiers with weapons get out of the vehicle. Two of the Americans fired on the fleeing men, cutting them both down, the witnesses said. The two friends said they watched as the Americans approached Rasul, picked him up and then dropped him. “He fell down, and then we realized he was dead,” Mr. Muhammad said.
The Americans then approached Naib who was still moving. “He was lying face down, and his hand was out to the side,” Mr. Muhammad said. “When they approached, he moved it and tried to put weight on it. The Americans came and shot him.” The two said one American fired three shots into the chest of Naib.
Frightened, the three witnesses hid behind a garden wall, but kept watching, they said. They said one of the American soldiers aimed his weapon at them and seconds later a bullet struck the wall. Afghan police officers walking over the scene of the shooting on Thursday found a small splayed bullet on the ground beside the wall.
Sayed Ahmad, the district criminal investigator, examined the scene the day after the shootings and gathered two bullet casings from an assault rifle at the side of the road, and three spent casings from a pistol on the ground where the bodies had been lying, which he said corroborated the account of one American firing three bullets into the prone body of Naib. The police handed the spent casings to Colonel Hayes.
“We told the Americans: ‘You Americans are always insisting on human rights in the world. But in war, when your enemy is injured, you do not have the right to shoot him, and you shot him with three pistol shots.’ “[, village elder Muhammad Karim said].