US soldier accused of shooting Afghan civilians identified

The U.S. soldier accused of going on a shooting rampage that left 16 Afghan civilians dead on Sunday has been identified as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a U.S. official confirmed to The Hill.

Bales, 38, is a veteran of three combat tours in Iraq and was on his first tour in Afghanistan during the incident. Bales had been in country since December and it was his fourth combat tour in 10 years. He is currently en route to the military's maximum-security facility in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.


Bales' attorney, John Henry Browne, told NBC News on Friday he planned to argue that his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which may have led to the unprovoked attack. Bales may also have suffered traumatic brain injury during his multiple tours in Iraq.

Bales allegedly left his base on early Sunday morning and headed to a nearby village. Once there, he is accused of methodically moving from house to house and shooting the occupants as he went. Bales, who had reportedly been drinking at the time, then returned to base and turned himself in.

The act outraged Afghans and further fueled anti-American sentiment within the country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai used the incident to push for an early withdrawal on American troops from the country. The White House and Pentagon plan to transfer control of security to Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The shootings were only latest in a recent wave of violent incidents that have put U.S.-Afghan tensions at an all time high. Last month, coalition forces set off a wave of violence in the country after American troops accidentally burned Qurans at an Air Force base. Two high-ranking U.S. officers were killed inside the Afghan Interior Ministry during the weeklong protest. Last April, a colonel with the Afghan air force shot several U.S. Air Force officers at Bagram Air Base in Kandahar.

— Jeremy Herb contributed