Relatives of 17 people shot dead in a rampage by a US soldier in southern Afghanistan have been paid tens of thousands of dollars in compensation, a tribal chief and government officials said Sunday.
The money - provided by the US military - was handed over at a private ceremony at the Kandahar provincial governor's office, they said.
"The elders called me and said they were paid $50,000 per person for the dead and $11,000 for the injured per person," Haji Agha Lalai, a tribal chief and a member of the Kandahar provincial council, said.
The killings - mostly of women and children - in Panjwai district are thought to be the deadliest crime by a US soldier during the decade-long conflict and have tested Washington and Kabul's already tense relationship to the limit.
The US is keen to draw a line under the massacre earlier this month as far as it can and the sums - around $900,000 in total - amount to a fortune in rural Afghanistan.
The payments on Saturday came a day after staff sergeant Robert Bales, 38, of the US 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, was formally accused of 17 premeditated murders for the killings - charges that could carry the death penalty. He is also accused of six counts of assault and attempted murder.
Afghan government officials speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the payments but differed slightly on the amounts, citing them as 2.3 million Afghanis ($46,000) each for the families of the dead and 500,000 Afghanis for the injured.