WASHINGTON — A US soldier will be charged with 17 counts of murder stemming from the killings of civilians in a rampage in southern Afghanistan, a US official said Thursday.
The official, confirming the murder charges on condition of anonymity, also said Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales would be charged with six counts of assault and attempted murder.
Bales, 38, is alleged to have walked out of his base in the southern province of Kandahar under cover of darkness March 11 and killed 17 people in two nearby villages, including women and children, and burning their bodies.
The charges raise by one the number of deaths reported immediately after the killings, which plunged relations between the United States and Afghanistan into crisis.
US officials had pledged a swift and thorough investigation, and US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said Bales could face the death penalty if convicted.