The U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians was charged Friday with the deaths in the first formal acknowledgement by the military of the massacre.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He was charged with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The charges also were announced by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and were to be delivered to Bales and his lawyers.
Bales, 38, a father of two who lives in Lake Tapps, Wash., has been held in solitary confinement in the U.S. military's only domestic maximum-security facility since being flown from Afghanistan last week.
While Army prosecutors are said to have concluded the slayings were premeditated and Bales was aware of his actions, Bales' civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, has said his client does not remember much about what happened in the predawn hours of March 11.
Military officials allege Bales, on his fourth combat tour overseas, walked off a small combat outpost in Kandahar province and slaughtered 17 villagers, most of them women and children, and then burned some of the victims' bodies and walked back to his base to turn himself in.
Authorities originally said 16 Afghans were killed and several others critically wounded in the massacre, considered the worst U.S. atrocity of the Afghan war. They said Thursday the death toll had since risen to 17.
Browne did not immediately respond to a phone message from United Press International seeking comment on the charges.
U.S. officials hope the charges, coming less than two weeks after the shootings, will be seen in Afghanistan as an indication Washington is determined to hold the perpetrator accountable, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A court-martial could be months or even years away, officials said.
President Barack Obama promised to hold accountable "anyone responsible" for the killings.
The attacks came at a time of evaporating trust between the U.S. military and its Afghan allies.
In January, an Internet video depicted U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. Soon after, U.S. troops inadvertently burned copies of the Koran and other Islamic holy texts, sparking widespread riots.
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