US suspect in Afghan massacre identified

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A US soldier who allegedly shot dead 16 civilians in Afghanistan was being held in a US military jail in Kansas Saturday as his name and new details about the veteran’s past emerged. The soldier, identified Friday by US media as US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, had served three combat tours in Iraq, and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan. Reports said Bales, 38, was the suspected shooter and a US official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP they were “correct”. Bales allegedly left his base in the southern province of Kandahar before sunrise Sunday, entered an Afghan village and opened fire, killing men, women and children. The incident has plunged US-Afghan relations into the deepest crisis since the 2001 US-led invasion. The US military has not officially released the soldier’s name, nor charged him with a crime yet. Bales was brought to the prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on a flight from Kuwait late Friday, army officials said. Several websites containing pictures and stories about Bales, including a 2009 Department of Defense page, were taken down by the time his identity was revealed Friday, but some versions of the webpages could still be accessed.