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Originally published Monday, March 12, 2012 at 11:29 AM

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AP source: Afghan shooter was from Stryker brigade

The U.S. soldier suspected of gunning down at least 16 Afghan civilians was from a Washington state-based Stryker brigade and received his assignment to a village stability program less than six weeks ago, a congressional source told The Associated Press on Monday.

Associated Press

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SEATTLE —

The U.S. soldier suspected of gunning down at least 16 Afghan civilians was from a Washington state-based Stryker brigade and received his assignment to a village stability program less than six weeks ago, a congressional source told The Associated Press on Monday.

The staff sergeant deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 3 with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord located south of Seattle, the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The soldier's name has not been released. But the source says he was attached Feb. 1 to the village stability program in Belambai, half a mile from one of the villages where the attack took place. The soldier is now in pretrial confinement as Army officials review his complete deployment and medical history.

The village stability operations are part of NATO's efforts to transition out of Afghanistan. They pair special operations troops with local villagers chosen by village elders to become essentially a sanctioned, armed neighborhood watch.

The soldier had previously deployed to Iraq. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan, officials have told the AP.

The 3rd Stryker Brigade has deployed three times to Iraq since 2003 and sent 2,500 soldiers to Afghanistan for the first time last December.

The soldier is not from the same brigade as four service members based at Lewis-McChord who were convicted in the deliberate killing of three Afghan civilians during patrols in 2010. Those soldiers were from the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which has since been renamed the 2nd Stryker brigade.

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Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle

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