Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.
Following the attacks, the Taliban threatened vengeance, as the insurgents often do after Western actions they depict as atrocities. A Taliban statement posted online on Monday denounced the killings, saying they were the latest in a series of humiliations against the Afghan people and denying that any Taliban fighters had been in the area.
Coming after a period of deepening public outrage, spurred by the Koran burning by American personnel last month and an earlier video showing American Marines urinating on dead militants, the possibility of a violent reaction to the killings added to a sense of siege here among Western personnel. Officials described growing concern over a cascade of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission and has left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge.
What are we doing there?