'US troops accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport'

The killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a platoon from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, 'The Washington Post' reported on Sunday.

According to investigators and legal documents, the killings began last winter, when one Afghan man approached the soldier in the village of La Mohammed Kalay.

The man was killed when one soldier created a ruse that they were under attack and threw a fragmentary grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle. Then others opened fire, killing the man, the paper said.

According to The Post, the unprovoked attack on January 15 was the start of a months-long shooting spree against Afghan civilians that resulted in some of the grisliest allegations against American soldiers since the US invasion in 2001.

Members of the platoon have been charged with dismembering and photographing corpses, as well as hoarding a skull and other human bones, the report said.

The father of one soldier, accused of murder said he repeatedly tried to alert the army after his son told him about the first killing, only to be rebuffed, The Post said.

Military documents allege that five members of the unit staged a total of three murders in Kandahar province between January and May, the paper noted.

Seven other soldiers have been charged with crimes related to the case, including hashish use, attempts to impede the investigation and a retaliatory gang assault on a private who blew the whistle, according to The Post.

Army officials have not disclosed a motive for the killings, the report noted. The killings were committed essentially for sport by soldiers who had a fondness for hashish and alcohol, a review of military court documents and interviews with people familiar with the investigation suggested, the paper said.

However, the accused soldiers deny wrongdoing, the paper noted.

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