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Report: American soldier kills up to 16 Afghan civilians in their homes

Allauddin Khan / AP

An elderly Afghan man sits next to a covered body, who was allegedly killed by a U.S. service member, in a minibus in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, March 11. Villagers showed an Associated Press photographer 15 bodies, including women and children, and alleged they were killed by the American.

A U.S. service member killed at least 15 members of two Afghan families as well as a 16th person before turning himself in, witnesses and officials said Sunday. Nine of the dead were children, and three were women, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.

The soldier, who has yet to be identified, reportedly left his base in the early hours Sunday and went to two villages just a few hundred yards away. He then opened fire on Afghan civilians sleeping in ther homes, Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs Asadullah Khalid told Reuters. The service member entered three homes in the villages in Kandahar province, he said.

-- Reported by msnbc.com staff and news services

A U.S. service member opened fire on Afghan civilians in Kandahar province, entering their homes in the middle of the night to carry out the attack, officials said Sunday. NBC's Atia Abawi reports.