A US soldier has been detained in southern Afghanistan in connection with an incident involving civilian casualties in the southern Kandahar province, according to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Local police sources told Al Jazeera that at least three civilians were killed when the soldier left his base early on Sunday morning and opened fire.
“US Forces-Afghanistan, in co-operation with Afghan authorities, will investigate this incident,” ISAF said in a statement.
“This is a deeply regrettable incident and we extend our thoughts and concerns to the families involved.”
Sediq Seddiqi, the spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, told Al Jazeera the incident was under investigation. He could not confirm any reports of casualties.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Herat, said the soldier opened fire on civilians around the base.
“We are now being told by the police sources that the US soldier left his base at three o clock this morning. It would have been pitch black wherever he walked,” he said.
Civilian casualties have been a major source of friction between President Hamid Karzai’s government and US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Anti-American sentiment had already been running high before news of the latest civilian casualties.
Anger gripped the country after US soldiers burned a large number of copies of the Quran at a NATO base last month, which NATO said was a tragic blunder.
At lest 30 people were killed in protests.