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Students protest over US soldier Kandahar shootings


Hundreds of students in eastern Afghanistan held the first significant protest today against a US soldier who killed 16 civilians in a shooting rampage.

The students shouted angry slogans against the soldier in the eastern city of Jalalabad and carried banners calling for his public trial.

Some of the protesters were building an effigy of US president Barack Obama that they planned to burn.

Sunday's killings in Kandahar province have caused outrage in Afghanistan, but have not sparked the kind of violent protests seen last month after American soldiers burned Muslim holy books.

The more muted response could be a result of Afghans being used to dealing with civilian casualties over a decade of war.

The crowd shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to the soldier who killed our civilians!”.

Some carried a banner that called for a public trial of the soldier, who US officials identified as a married, 38-year-old father of two who was trained as a sniper and recently suffered a head injury in Iraq.

Other protesters burned an effigy of Mr Obama.

“The reason we are protesting is because of the killing of innocent children and other civilians by this tyrant US soldier,” said Sardar Wali, a university student.

“We want the United Nations and the Afghan government to publicly try this guy.”

Mr Obama has expressed his shock and sadness and extended his condolences to the families of the victims. But he has also said the horrific episode would not speed up plans to pull out foreign forces, despite increasing opposition at home to the war in Afghanistan.