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Taliban vow revenge for death of 16 Afghans

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Afghanistan (AP) - The Taliban vowed revenge Monday after at least one American soldier shot to death 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan and burned their bodies, an attack that has fueled anger still simmering after U.S. troops burned Qurans last month.

An Afghan youth mourns for relatives, who were allegedly killed by a U.S. service member in Panjwai, Kandahar. (Photo: Associated Press)

U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan have stepped up security following the shootings Sunday in Kandahar province out of concern about retaliatory attacks.

The U.S. Embassy has also warned American citizens in Afghanistan about the possibility of reprisals.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for several attacks last month that the group said were retaliation for the Americans burning Qurans.

Afghan forces also turned their guns on their supposed allies, killing six U.S. troops as violent protests wracked the country.

It's unclear whether there will be a similar response to Sunday's shootings.

But the attack will likely spark even greater distrust between Washington and Kabul and fuel questions in both countries about why American troops are still fighting in Afghanistan after 10 years of conflict and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban said in a statement on their website that "sick-minded American savages" committed the "blood-soaked and inhumane crime" in two villages in Panjwai district, a rural region outside Kandahar that is the cradle of the Taliban and where coalition forces have fought for control for years.

The militant group promised the families of the victims that it would take revenge "for every single martyr with the help of Allah."

The U.S. has said the shootings in two villages were carried out by a single American soldier, who is now in custody.

But Afghans have expressed doubt that a single soldier could have carried out the shootings in houses over a mile (2 kilometers) apart.

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