KABUL, Afghanistan — A military investigation into a violent confrontation between Afghan residents of this capital city and United States soldiers last week has concluded that the troops acted with “admirable restraint” even after an American soldier was stabbed, a military official said.
The investigation examined the tense moments after a Taliban bomb ripped through a heavily armored convoy of American troops traveling down a busy street in Kabul. As the American soldiers, who were unharmed, got out of their trucks to form a cordon, they were confronted with a scene of devastation. A mix of passing motorists and shopkeepers had taken the brunt of the blast. At least one Afghan was killed and nearly two dozen were wounded.
What happened next was confusing and violent. Witnesses to the scene, interviewed by reporters, said Afghans began to throw stones at the soldiers and shout “Death to Americans.” An American soldier opened fire, with some witnesses reporting that the shots were clearly aimed away from the crowd, and intended as a warning. But others accused the soldiers of firing into the crowd. At one point, an Afghan man stabbed a soldier. The scene calmed only when Afghan security forces took control, witnesses said.
The investigation by an 11-person board of NATO officials concluded that it was extremely unlikely that American troops had shot any Afghans during the episode, said Brig. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner of the United States Army. General Shoffner, the top military spokesman for the American-led mission in Afghanistan, said the review had concluded that one American soldier had “fired two warning shots from his rifle into the side of an unoccupied and obviously damaged civilian vehicle parked on the side of the road in order to warn off the crowd.”