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Injury upset those in suspect’s unit

SEATTLE — The US soldier accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians last weekend had been reluctant to leave on his fourth deployment and had been staying in a camp where someone was ‘‘gravely injured’’ the day before the shooting, a Seattle lawyer said Thursday.

‘‘He wasn’t thrilled about going on another deployment,’’ said the lawyer, John Henry Browne. ‘‘He was told he wasn’t going back, and then he was told he was going.’’

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Browne said soldiers in the suspect’s camp had been very upset about the injury. He told reporters that he’s met with the wife and other family members of the 38-year-old staff sergeant from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma. ‘‘They were totally shocked,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s never said anything antagonistic about Muslims. He’s in general very mild-mannered.’’

The soldier is suspected of going on a shooting rampage in villages near his base in southern Afghanistan early Sunday, killing nine children and seven other civilians and then burning some of their bodies.

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The shooting, which followed a controversial Koran-burning incident involving US soldiers, has outraged Afghan officials.

The suspect was flown out of Afghanistan on Wednesday evening to what officials describe as a pretrial confinement facility in Kuwait.

Officials have anonymously described him as a father of two who has been in the military for 11 years. He has served three tours in Iraq and began his first deployment to Afghanistan in December.

The soldier asked to be represented by Browne when he was taken into custody, the lawyer said. Browne said he’s spoken with the soldier, but did not discuss the substance of the allegations. He said the soldier had no prior events in his Army dossier indicating misbehavior.

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Associated Press writer Robert Burns contributed from Washington.

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