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US troops charged over 'kill team'

world Updated: Sep 09, 2010 23:53 IST
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Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year.

Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

Five soldiers — Gibbs, Morlock, Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield — are accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges. All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

The killings came to light after the army began investigating an assault on a soldier.

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