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US compensates Afghan families

The United States has paid 50,000 dollars (£31,503) in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a US soldier in southern Afghanistan.

The families of the dead received the money at the governor's office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai. Each wounded person received 11,000 dollars (£6,930).

They were told that the money came from US President Barack Obama, Mr Lalai said.

A US official confirmed that compensation had been paid but declined to discuss exact amounts, saying only that it reflected the devastating nature of the incident.

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," Lt Col Jimmie Cummings said.

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

It was not immediately clear how much money had been paid out in total. Afghan officials and villagers have counted 16 dead - 12 in the village of Balandi 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 soldier 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.


From Belfast Telegraph