11 Mar 2012 01:30 PM EST
-by Andrea Warner, Contributing Writer; Image: Residents sit with the bodies of victims in the recent Afghan shooting. (Image Source: Mustafa Khan/European Pressphoto Agency)
An American soldier killed approximately 16 civilians Sunday when he opened fire on three houses near his base in southern Afghanistan.
Nine children and three women were among those killed. Al Jazeera reports the dead numbering somewhere between 15 and 17.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded an explanation from Washington, according to the AP.
“This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,” Karzai said in a statement. The president has also repeatedly demanded that American soldiers stop killing Afghan civilians.
An AP photographer recounted seeing some victims being carried away:
Some of the bodies had been burned, while others were covered with blankets. A young boy partially wrapped in a blanket was in the back of a minibus, dried blood crusted on his face and pooled in his ear. His loose-fitting brown pants were partly burned, revealing a leg charred by fire.
This attack risks fanning the fire of anti-American sentiment in Afghanistan, especially Korans were burnt last month at an American military base, explains the New York Times. The burning led to weeks of violent protests and attacks that left around 30 dead.
Though the violence has begun to calm, so far, six U.S. soldiers have been killed by Afghan colleagues since the Koran incident.
The service member who attacked the three houses, located in Belandi in the Panjwai District of Kandahar, has been detained.