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 Islamic Emirate once again warns the American animals that the mujahideen will avenge them, and with the help of Allah will kill and behead your sadistic murderous soldiers.
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.
I think what is clear is that years of work trying to stabilise Afghan villages, billions of dollars spent training the Afghan military, is all being critically undermined by the actions of a few rogue soldiers.
Remember, the polls here show that 60% of Americans regard this war as not being worthwhile, that number is now certain to grow over the coming weeks.
The question is can the timetable be brought forward from 2014, perhaps to 2013?
I think the answer is it is increasingly likely and I think the political and military chereography of an accelerated withdrawal will be a central part of the conversation between David Cameron and the President at the White House over the next 48 hours.
The British military forces, based here in Helmand, the neighbouring province to Kandahar, have been working hard to develop a bond of trust with people here but it's delicate work and easily derailed by incidents like this.
They can only hope there are no more serious consequences. In bases across the country they are bracing themselves for difficult days ahead.
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."