WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A preliminary investigation by the military says U.S. Marines killed or wounded more than 40 Afghan civilians after a suicide attack on a convoy last month, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
The newspaper said work by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service would decide whether to call courts martial for the troops involved.
A spokesman at the Defense Department’s Central Command headquarters was not immediately available for comment.
Although Marines said they saw people with weapons, the investigation found no evidence of small arms fire, the newspaper quoted Maj. Gen. Frank Kearney, head of Special Operations Command Central, as saying.
The Marines shot at vehicles and other suspected threats for miles after the site of the March 4 incident in a village near Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people and wounding 33, Kearney told the newspaper.
“My investigating officer believes those folks were innocent … We were unable to find evidence that those were fighters,” the newspaper quoted Kearney as saying.
Kearney said there was evidence, such as broken glass, showing the Marines fired their weapons for about three miles after the attack. An official Afghan human rights investigation says the Marines continued shooting for 10 miles, which the newspaper said Kearney did not dispute.
One Marine suffered shrapnel wounds in the attack on the six-Humvee convey, the newspaper said.
On Saturday, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission issued a report saying the Marines had acted illegally.
The unit involved was called home early soon after the incident