No Major Violence In Afghanistan After Killings

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An Afghan government delegation came under fire when it traveled to the scene to express condolences, and there have been non-violent anti-American protests elsewhere in the country.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block. The news from Afghanistan today is not as bad as some predicted. Appeals for calm seemed to be working after Sunday's massacre of 16 men, women and small children. There have been limited demonstrations, and Afghan politicians continue to demand that the killer, believed to be a U.S. Army sergeant, be turned over to Afghan justice.

SIEGEL: There was one significant episode of violence today. It happened when an Afghan government delegation traveled to the scene of the massacre in a remote village in southern Kandahar to pay respects. NPR's Quil Lawrence picks up the story from there.

QUIL LAWRENCE, BYLINE: Two of President Hamid Karzai's brothers led a delegation of Cabinet officials and police to the district of Panjwai, southwest of Kandahar, for a religious service commemorating the 16 people who died on Sunday. While they prayed inside a village mosque, at about 11 a.m. local time, shots rang out, says Abdul Qayoum Karzai, the president's older brother.

ABDUL QAYOUM KARZAI: (Foreign language spoken)

LAWRENCE: As we exited the mosque, he said, shots were fired. As we left, we heard more shots and two rocket-propelled grenades. Afghan soldiers returned fire as the delegation sped back toward the city of Kandahar. One soldier was killed, and two others wounded. The government blamed the Taliban for the attack, but it wasn't possible to confirm that independently. Otherwise, the day passed with only muted protests. Students demonstrated in one eastern city and burned an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama.

In marked contrast to the riots after the burning of the Quran by U.S. soldiers last month, the Afghan media was restrained and did not feature graphic pictures of the murdered children.

SAAD MOHSENI: Although we're demanding justice, as all Afghans are, it's also very important that, you know, we don't have other people lose their lives.

LAWRENCE: Saad Mohseni chairs Kabul's largest media conglomerate, including the popular Tolo TV network. He says it was a conscious decision not to inflame Afghan tempers, and he says Afghans are somewhat exhausted anyhow.

MOHSENI: The sad thing is that innocent people die in Afghanistan and have been dying in Afghanistan for the last 30 years. And people have become fairly resilient in terms of accepting sort of the collateral damage.

LAWRENCE: But Mohseni said this case is different, and Afghans are waiting to see if Americans really value the lives of Afghan children as they would American children. The way to demonstrate that, he says, is swift and clear justice for the killer. Quil Lawrence, NPR news, Kabul.

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