- (Photo: REUTERS/Department of Defense/Spc. Ryan Hallock)
New allegations have been made that the U.S. paid up to $50,000 per death in Afghanistan, casting more speculation of last week's massacre of 17 civilians by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.
A U.S. official has spoken out about killings of Afghan citizens and said that the U.S. has paid nearly $50,000 to the families of those killed, according to NBC.
"The amount reflects the extraordinarily devastating nature of the incident," the source said.
Now speculation has been raised as to how many families have received payment and whether any credence should be given to the Afghan assertions that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was part of a larger plan by the U.S. to kill citizens.
Staff Sgt. Bales stands accused of 17 counts of murder in the early-morning Afghanistan massacre that left nine children dead. Kandahar council member Agha Lalai stated that the families of those killed received $50,000 from "U.S. President Barack Obama," according to the Associated Press. Those wounded received $11,000.
Was the money compensation for the deaths or merely a gesture of goodwill?
The American official who spoke to NBC said the $50,000 was meant to help the victims' families and ease their financial burdens. But Colonel Gary Kolb of NATO has gone on record as saying that the money was compensation for the deaths.
Speculation on the part of Afghan citizens was already high, as claims were made that Bales could not have acted alone and was part of a larger conspiracy by the U.S. The Taliban has said all along that they will take action for "every single martyr with the help of Allah."
"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai stated. The people of Afghanistan have reacted with much outrage: burning a cross, leading protests and calling for justice to be served.
"This was a planned activity, and we will certainly take revenge on all American forces in Afghanistan and don't trust such (American court) trials," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters. "This is a crime by the American government."