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Afghan shootings: US pays $50,000 per victim

Relatives received the cash in compensation for a March 11 shooting spree in Afghanistan. The US has charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of 17 murders in the case.

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The United States has paid $50,000 in compensation for each Afghan killed in the shooting spree attributed to a US soldier in southern Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a community elder said Sunday.

The families of the dead received the money Saturday at the governor's office, said Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai. Each wounded person received $11,000, Lalai said. Community elder Jan Agha confirmed the same figures.

They were told that the money came from US President Barack Obama, Lalai said.

A US official confirmed that compensation had been paid but declined to discuss exact amounts, saying only that it reflected the devastating nature of the incident. The official spoke anonymously because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

A spokesman for NATO and US forces declined to confirm or deny the payments, saying that while coalition members often make compensation payments, they are usually kept private.

"As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential," Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings said.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of sneaking out of his base before dawn on March 11 then creeping into houses in two nearby villages and opening fire on sleeping families within.

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