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U.S. sheds light on 17th Afghan victim in shooting rampage

WASHINGTON — The 17th victim of a shooting rampage in Afghanistan was identified after investigators arrived at the scene, the top U.S. commander in the country said Monday in explaining why the U.S. toll is higher than that originally provided by Afghan officials.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen, said the widely reported toll of 16 dead came from Afghans immediately after the shooting, but another victim was identified later. “We should not be surprised that in fact as the investigation went forward, an additional number was added,” he said.

Another senior military official said there was no evidence that the additional victim was a fetus, disputing media reports that quoted local Afghan officials as saying that one of the female casualties was found to be pregnant. The additional victim was an adult, said theU.S. militaryofficer, speaking anonymously because he was discussing an ongoing investigation.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales faces 17 counts of premeditated murder and other charges in connection with a nighttime massacre March 11 in two remote Afghan villages.

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The U.S. paid Afghan families about $50,000 for each of the nine children and eight adults who died. The compensation is substantially higher than the usual payments — about $2,500 per victim — theU.S. militarymakes when it kills civilians in Afghanistan but officials said it was justified in this instance.

david.cloud@latimes.com


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