US soldier accused of Afghan killings is identified
The US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians has been identified by several US media organizations as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38, DPA reported.
The man's identity had been withheld by officials as they worked to fly him out of Afghanistan to a stopover - possibly in Kuwait.
Bales was expected to arrive Friday evening at the high security US military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Broadcasters CNN, Fox News and MSNBC cited unnamed officials or the man's lawyer as revealing the name.
The shootings occurred Sunday in Kandahar Province, when the suspect walked a bit more than a kilometre off his military base into a village, where he killed 16 people as they slept, including nine children.
One man was mourning the death of 11 family members, according to a report in The New YOrk Times this week.
The killings have outraged the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai, who has demanded that foreign troops withdraw from villages and hand over full responsibility for security and combat by 2013 - a year earlier than the plan of US President Barack Obama.
Karzai is also angry that the Afghan judicial system has been shut out of the investigation and judicial process.
Earlier Friday, The New York Times reported that the suspect had been drinking alcohol before the massacre, and also suffered from stress in his fourth combat tour and family tensions. The newspaper cited an unnamed senior American official as its source.
Alcohol consumption in a combat zone is forbidden by US military rules.