It is highly shocking that a US soldier broke into a house in Kandahar shortly after Sunday’s midnight and sprayed 16 civilians including women and children with bullets at point blank range. The witnesses, however, profess that it was not a single soldier but a group of marines that arrived in a combat vehicle, were heavily armed and carried out the massacre. A relative of the victims is cited as saying that the American soldiers were drunk and kept laughing while they killed and later torched houses in the vicinity.

In a state of deep shock and anger President Karzai has termed the barbarity ‘international murders’ and ‘unforgivable’. US Defence Secretary Panetta has assured Mr Karzai of an impartial probe into the matter but we know that such assurances are all humbug. ISAF is already trying to cover up the act with the excuse that it was only an individual act for which only one soldier was responsible. This shameful explanation itself amounts to condoning the gruesome crime. It is difficult to believe that a single soldier would break into a house, open fire and killed so many people, later set adjoining houses on fire and return safely? Ironically, the Americans claim themselves to be champions of human rights and preach almost every other country not to resort to use of force and bloodshed. But as these incidents prove, they have themselves crossed all limits when it comes to bloodshed, torture and war crimes. Night raids on houses, aerial attacks on processions even those of marriage, unprovoked firing on ordinary Afghan civilians have become a regular feature of the war on terror. There are besides a number of detention facilities like for instance Bagram air base, where Afghans are brutally tortured. There have also been recent reports of incidents in which the US forces kill the Afghans and cut off their body parts to keep them as trophies. The latest episode of murder of a few militants and subsequent desecration of dead bodies by the US marines was only the tip of the iceberg since arguably there may be many other such incidents that go unreported.

The sad part is that these atrocities are happening under the watchful eye of American and NATO commanders. No strict punishments are given to those who commit such crimes against humanity and thus not enough proof is given to the world of steps taken to ensure this does not happen again. The US military and its recent examples of shocking disrespect towards Holy books, dead bodies and now, complete disregard for life, will earn its adventures abroad the title of reign of terror, instead of those it was seeking to 'liberate' the oppressed from.