Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Army soldier suspected of slaughtering Afghan villagers in a rampage, will face 17 charges of murder, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The official confirmed that Sgt. Bales was expected to be formally charged Friday at the military detention center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he has been held for the past week.
U.S. and Afghan officials have said that 16 men, women and children were killed in the March 11 incident, which took place in Panjway, in southern Kandahar province. U.S. officials didn't explain why the formal charges will contain 17 counts of murder.
Sgt. Bales, 38 years old, also is expected to face related charges of military law violations in connection with the rampage, which followed a string of other actions by U.S. and coalition troops that offended Afghans and has further strained U.S. relations with the country.
John Henry Browne, a lawyer for Mr. Bales, said he hasn't been formally notified of the charges or when they will be released. He said wasn't surprised by the allegations.
Sgt. Bales, a veteran of four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, is suspected of leaving a U.S. combat outpost to go on the early morning rampage, which claimed the lives of several women and children.
Officials only confirmed Sgt. Bales' identity after he had left the country.
In testimony Thursday, Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S commander in Afghanistan, said such events were 'heart-wrenching,' but added: 'The relationship between the coalition and the Afghan security forces remains strong.'
Sgt. Bales' case has cast a national spotlight on the debate over civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and added greater urgency to talks between the U.S. and Afghan governments about control of nighttime military missions and raids.
The rampage also has stirred the discussion in the U.S. about the after-effects of war on military service members and their families. Sgt. Bales was treated for traumatic brain injury after a vehicle rollover in Iraq in 2010; media reports have also focused on the strains on families caused by multiple combat tours during the decade-long conflict.
Sgt. Bales, from the Third Stryker Brigade of the Second Infantry Division, deployed to Afghanistan in December out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Spc. Ryan Hallock/The High Desert Warrior美军上士贝尔斯（左）美国和阿富汗官员曾说，3月11日发生在坎大哈省南部潘杰瓦伊(Panjway)地区的屠杀事件中，有16名平民被害，其中包括男人、女人和儿童。美国官员没有解释为什么正式起诉会包括17宗谋杀罪名。
贝尔斯的律师布朗(John Henry Browne)说，他未被正式告知这些指控的内容或这些指控将于何时公布。他表示这些指控没有让他感到吃惊。
贝尔斯隶属于美国陆军第二步兵师第三装甲旅，于去年12月从华盛顿州刘易斯-麦科德联合基地(Joint Base Lewis-McChord)进驻阿富汗。