Afghan panel: Marines used excessive force

April 14, 2007 at 1:17 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan, April 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. Marine unit used "excessive force" after an ambush, spraying gunfire that killed 12 people, two of them children, an Afghan human rights panel said.

In a draft report, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission found that the members of a Special Operations platoon fired at taxis and other vehicles along a 10-mile stretch of road after an encounter with a suicide bomber near Jalalabad, The Washington Post reported. In addition to a 4-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy, the dead included two women and three elderly Afghans -- and 35 people were wounded.

One Marine was wounded by shrapnel.

The report on the March 4 deaths said that the Marine response was "disproportionate."

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., head of the House committee that oversees Marine Special Operations, was briefed on the report by Maj. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, head of the command.

"There is very troubling information in those reports that must be investigated," Smith told the Post.

One witness told the commission he escaped by jumping out of his car as the Marines began firing, but he said his father, nephew and a friend were killed.

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