Taliban vow revenge for Afghans reportedly slain by US soldier

The Taliban are vowing to take revenge for the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians on Sunday, threatening to ratchet up the violence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban called for revenge against “the sick minded American savages” for “committing a blood-soaked and inhumane crime,” the group said in a statement on its website.

The killings of civilians by a U.S. soldier is the latest incident that has drawn outrage in Afghanistan, following the accidental burning of Qurans at a U.S. airbase last month and a video reported to depict Marines urinating on Taliban corpses that was posted on the Internet in January.

The Quran burnings sparked protests across the country that left 30 Afghans dead, and six U.S. troops were killed in the week following the incident, including two officers shot in the Afghan Interior Ministry.

Afghanistan’s leaders condemned the killings, and some called for a public trial for the U.S. soldier who allegedly shot and killed 16 Afghans in Kandahar.

Afghan President Karzai on Sunday called the killings an “assassination” that could not be forgiven.

Afghan Parliament member Shukria Barakzai, who heads the defense committee, said the trust between the two governments has been “trashed.”

She called for a trial for the perpetrator, according to The Washington Post. “Afghan blood cannot be spilled in vain,” she said. “We really need a proper, very official court for that guy. We really, really need it.”

An Obama administration official said Monday that despite the setbacks, the strategy in Afghanistan was not going to change. “It's been a really bad three weeks, there's no question of that," the official said. “But I don't see the national security apparatus changing because of this event.”

But the soldier's killings could further diminish the relationship between the two countries. The transfer of security control to the Afghans is reliant on NATO and Afghan troops working together as International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) train the Afghans before NATO hands security control to them, which is set to take place by the end of 2014.

The United States has been negotiating with Afghanistan over a strategic partnership agreement, which would set out the guidelines for the two countries after NATO forces hand control of security to the Afghans. The two sides reached an agreement Friday to gradually transfer control of a prison to the Afghans, which was one sticking point for the partnership agreement.

The United States also has begun negotiations in Qatar with the Taliban, but the talks could be threatened by Sunday’s killings and the vow for vengeance.

— Amie Parnes contributed to this report.