A shooting rampage outside the wire

U.S. military officials say a 38-year-old Army staff sergeant walked off his base in a remote southern village in Afghanistan on Sunday and fatally shot 16 civilians in three homes, in addition to wounding at least five. He then returned to the base, known as Camp Belambay, and turned himself in to U.S. military authorities. Return to article.

  • Shooting and suspect
  • Role in the region
  • Taliban locations
Vicinity of attacks

Shooting details

Villagers told a deputy chief of the Kandahar provincial government that before dawn Sunday, 11 people, including women and children, were executed inside the home of a village elder. Residents in a nearby village heard gunshots, and they discovered the bodies of five men inside two houses located near each other.

Suspect's background

The U.S. military has not named the suspect but has said that he was deployed to southern Afghanistan in December. He had three tours in Iraq, and this was his first in Afghanistan. A married father of two children, he was part of a Village Stability Operation (VSO) in Kandahar province and was deployed with a unit that was supporting U.S. Special Operations forces in the area.

The suspect was working with -- but was not a part of -- a Special Operations team embedded in the area to lead a Village Stability Operations effort. In a VSO, the team, often composed of 12 men, is assigned to work with a particular village and its traditional local government, assisting it in creating and training a defense force made up of local men. The program is called Afghan Local Police.


The attack occurred in an area that the Defense Department considers a Taliban hot spot, based on an October report that outlined military conflicts between the International Security Assistance Force and insurgents.

Taliban hot spots

Published Mar. 13, 2012.
Sources: Staff reports; International Security Assistance Force; U.S. Army's Special Warfare Center and School; Institute for the Study of War | The Washington Post