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Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Monday, 12 March 2012

Afghan killing will sit in 'Al Qaeda narrative'

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A US soldier in Afghanistan has killed at least 16 civilians, including nine children, and wounded five after entering their homes in Kandahar province.

Robert Fox, defence correspondent for the Evening Standard said that it "raises big questions" about withdrawal of forces.

Leaving Afghanistan has to be done with good management of relations with Afghanistan on all sides, he explained, and this incident will have been "enormously damaging".

He told the Today programme's John Humphrys that the soldier in question acted with "cold, deliberate, deluded logic" and the "rumour machine of Afghans will lose no colour in the telling" of this story.

The killing of 16 Afghan civilians by a US soldier "will be a key radicalising force" for Al Qaeda, says Commodore Steven Jermy, former strategy director at the British Embassy in Kabul.

He went on to say that the Taliban will play on this and it will "sit in the Al Qaeda narrative" in the future.

Despite this, Commodore Jermy insisted that we must "stick with the plan" to withdraw on schedule.

In terms of what will happen when troops do withdraw, he said that it is "entirely plausible that the country will break into civil war".


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