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U.S. soldier charged with three Afghan murders

A 22-year old Army specialist has been charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of three Afghan civilians.

Army officials say Spc Jeremy Morlock of Wasilla, Alaska (yes, that Wasilla), of the Army's 5th Stryker Brigade out of Fort Lewis, Washington was allegedly part of a "rogue unit" that killed three innocent Afghans in three seperate incidents in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan earlier this year. According to the officials in at least one case soldiers in that unit allegedly planted an AK-47 next to the victim to make it appear he was an armed insurgent.

Charges are possible against others in the unit for allegedly participating in the killings or helping to cover them up.

US military officials are concerned that the killings will provide the Taliban with "invaluable and damaging propoganda" against the US military just as it prepares to launch a major offensive operation in and around Kandahar city in an effort to end Taliban and criminal influcence and win the "hearts and minds" of Afghans.