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The Afghan Taliban threatened on Tuesday to behead US soldiers in revenge for a shooting spree by a lone American soldier in volatile Kandahar province in which 16 Afghan civilians died. In an emailed statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said:
The soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians, most of them children, and burning their bodies was trained as a sniper and recently suffered a head injury in Iraq, US officials have said. The name of the suspect, a married, 38-year-old father of two, has not been released.
Shinkai Karokhail, Afghan National Assembly, said: "This soldier should go to trial in a very transparent way and of course Afghans would prefer to take him to justice in Afghanistan."
More than half of the public (57%) disagree that the deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan are justified by the cause they are fighting for, rising from 50% last June, a ComRes poll for ITV News found. Now just one in four (26%) agree and 17% say they are not sure.
Nearly half of the public (46%) have no idea why the UK are in Afghanistan and do not understand why British soldiers are fighting there, up from 39% last June, a ComRes poll for ITV News found.
Nearly three-quarters of the public believe that the war in Afghanistan in unwinnable, a ComRes poll for ITV News found.
The figure has grown from 60% in June last year to 73%, while more than half (55%) think British troops should be withdrawn immediately compared to 48% previously.
Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International, said: "The United States must act swiftly and take the lead in an independent, credible, and transparent investigation and provide adequate compensation to the families affected by the killings."
Veteran Labour MP David Winnick said that public support for what was increasingly seen as an "unwinnable war" was falling away. He said: "It won't help the fight against terrorism, perhaps it even helps the terrorists."
The shooting incident will not change the timetable for Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan, the White House said.
Latest ITV News reports
The international military strategy in Afghanistan must not be derailed by the massacre of civilians by a US solider, leaders said.
With popular support for the war in Afghanistan fading, President Obama will be hoping for a quiet close to combat operations in 2014.