19/12/2012 13:11 GMT | Updated 19/12/2012 13:54 GMT

Afghanistan Shooter Accused Robert Bales 'To Face Death Penalty' If Found Guilty

The US army has announced it will seek the death penalty for the American soldier accused of murdering 16 civilians in Afghanistan.

Nine children and three women were among those killed, shot as they slept in their beds in March this year. Four men were also killed and five others were wounded.

The shooter has been identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales from Lake Tapps, in Washington. He has been described as a family man, with a wife and two children.

Sgt Robert Bales

On March 10, the day before the shooting spree, the soldier is said to have seen his friend's leg blown off. It has not been confirmed whether or not Bales was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, but it was his fourth deployment to Afghanistan.

At the pre-trial hearing, his colleagues testified how Bales had been drinking that night, reported AP.

He is reported to have slipped out to attack one village in Kandahar, before sneaking out again to another later on.

He is said to have come back to the base just before dawn, alone and covered in blood, saying things like "I thought I was doing the right thing" reported the Associated Press.

There was outrage in Afghanistan over the murderous rampage by a rogue American soldier

Although Afghan officials wanted the man to be tried in their country, US officials at the Pentagon said there were not "appropriate facilities" for holding the soldier there.

At the time, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai described the attacks as "impossible to forgive", saying in a statement:

"When Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action."

Karzai told US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta that Nato troops should pull back to their bases and Afghan forces should take over the lead security role in 2013 following the attacks.

Separately on Wednesday, David Cameron announced the strength of the UK force will be reduced from 9,000 to 5,200 by the end of next year.

The partial withdrawal paves the way for the final removal of the bulk of British personnel from the central Asian country as planned by the end of 2014, said Mr Cameron.

More to follow..