By Jeremy Herb - 03/26/12 03:30 PM EDT
The families of those allegedly killed by a rogue U.S. soldier in Afghanistan were paid for each person who died in the attack, Afghanistan commander Gen. John Allen confirmed at a Pentagon press conference Monday.
"It is a natural and cultural norm that we would pursue," Allen said of the payments which were made to families over the weekend. "We've done that in the past. In this case it was appropriate, we believe, given the circumstances."
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of murder in the killings and is being held at a prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Afghan officials have called for a public trial for Bales, and some protested his move out of Afghanistan.
Deputy provincial council chief Agha Lalai Dastagiri told The Wall Street Journal that the payments to the families were not intended to compensate for their loss.
"This is not compensation money but aid money to help them survive and improve their lives," he said. “We still demand the trial of the perpetrators. This is the demand of the entire people.”
Allen said the increase in deaths to 17 from 16 was a result of the investigation moving forward after the initial reporting by the Afghan government. He did not elaborate.
The payments are much higher than the $2,000 that the Afghan government pays for civilians killed, according to the Times.
Anger over the civilian deaths has added to the already tense relationship between NATO forces and their Afghan counterparts.
A U.S. Army captain was killed in Kabul on Saturday, according to the Pentagon, and the Journal reported that two British troops were shot and killed by an Afghan soldier on Monday in southern Afghanistan.