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There's widespread public anger in Afghanistan after it emerged that the US soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians has been flown to Kuwait. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is now calling on NATO-led forces to pull out of Afghan villages following Sunday's shooting spree.
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in Usbeen village, Surobi district of Kabul province on March 14.
People across Afghanistan woke up in anger after finding out that the American soldier suspected of being behind Sunday's massacre was transferred out of the country on Wednesday night.
Kabul resident Gulam Hazrat said: "The US soldier must be tried in Kandahar city, why was he taken away from Afghanistan when he murdered innocent people in this country? We want to see him punished here in Afghanistan."
Kabul resident Mohammad Afghan said: "The American who killed 16 innocent people with no reason must be tried in our country. We have a government, a court and a judicial system, this case must be taken seriously and the punishment should be given to him in public."
Furious Afghan lawmakers made similar calls. They say the government should not sign a strategic partnership agreement with Washington unless the soldier faces justice in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon explained the transfer was based on legal recommendations, adding the move did not preclude the possibility of trying the case in Afghanistan.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is trying to soothe the growing anger. He discussed the massacre with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday. Kazai says international troops should pull back from rural areas and villages to main bases. He says Afghan troops are ready to take over protecting their country and that the transfer of authority should happen in 2013, a year ahead of the current target date.
Meanwhile, the Taliban issued a statement on Thursday, saying it has suspended preliminary peace talks with the US. The group also says talks with the Afghan government were pointless.
Ties between the US and Afghanistan already under strain due to the burning of Qurans by American soldiers last month, is deteriorating further due to Sunday's massacre.