FIVE US soldiers accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan are facing additional charges of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.

It comes from a plot that allegedly began when one soldier discussed how easy it would be to “toss a grenade” at Afghan civilians.

The five soldiers were charged with murder in June for the deaths of three Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province this year. According to charging summaries newly released by the army, additional allegations of conspiracy have since been filed against those soldiers, and seven others have been charged in connection with the conspiracy or with attempting to cover it up, The Seattle Times reported yesterday.

The new charges arose from the investigations into the killings and into a brutal assault on an enlisted man who had informed on soldiers smoking hashish, the newspaper reported. The informant told of hearing soldiers talk about killing civilians.

Platoon members told investigators that army Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs began joking with other soldiers last December about how easy it would be to “toss a grenade” at Afghan civilians and kill them, the newspaper said. One soldier responded that it was a stupid idea, and another believed Sergeant Gibbs was “feeling out the platoon.”

Sergeant Gibbs formed a “kill team” to randomly execute Afghan civilians while on patrol, the documents said. Sergeant Gibbs has denied any involvement in the killings.

The three who were killed were shot. Two were also hit with grenades in one of the most serious war-crimes cases to emerge from the Afghan war.  Anyone who dared to report the events was threatened with violence, investigators were told.   Sergeant Gibbs, 25, and Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 22, were charged in June with three counts each of premeditated murder and one count of assault.

Three other soldiers were charged in June with one count of premeditated murder: Private 1st Class Andrew Holmes, 19; Specialist Michael Wagnon II, 29; and Specialist Adam Winfield, 21.  The three civilians killed near the army’s Forward Operating Base Ramrod were identified as Gul Mudin, killed in January; Marach Agha, killed in February; and Mullah Adahdad, killed in May.

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