KABUL — U.S. military officials paid relatives $50,000 for each of the villagers allegedly killed by a rogue U.S. soldier
this month in Kandahar province, Afghan officials said Sunday.
Payment of “blood money” is a common way to settle disputes stemming from violent deaths in Afghanistan, but the amounts seemed unusually high compared with past U.S. military practice. The money could defuse the intense anger the March 11 massacre has generated in the southern province.
U.S. military officials handed the money to the villagers Saturday during a meeting at the office of Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, according to Fazal Mohammed Esaqzai, the deputy chairman of the Panjwai district council, who was present.
A U.S. official in Kabul confirmed the payments, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“The amount reflects the devastating nature of the incident,” the official said.
Esaqzai said U.S. Special Forces commanders gave villagers $50,000 for each of the 17 people shot to death and $11,000 for each of the six people wounded in the shootings. The U.S. military charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
, 38, with 17 counts of premeditated murder
Friday. He had been assigned to a Special Forces base in Panjwai district.