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Soldier accused of Afghan killings faces 17 murder charges

Robert Bales also faces assault, attempted murder charges

The U.S. soldier accused of killing civilians on a shooting rampage in two villages in Afghanistan will be charged with 17 counts of murder.

The BBC says that it has been told by Pentagon officials that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales would also be charged with six counts of assault and attempted murder.

The 38-year-old was moved from Afghanistan after the incident in Panjway, in southern Kandahar province on March 11 and is being held in solitary confinement at a military detention center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Another unnamed source told the Associated Press he also faces charges relating to dereliction of duty and other violations of military law.

It adds that authorities are expected to read Bales the charges on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal says that official reports put the death toll from the attack at 16, and says that U.S. officials didn't explain why the formal charges will contain 17 counts of murder.

Bales' lawyer John Henry Browne was contacted by CNN who reportedly said he has not been formally notified of the charges.

However, he said the case would be "extremely difficult" for the prosecution, adding: "I'm going to make them prove every claim."

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Meanwhile, Associated Press is reporting that it has obtained an incident report from Pierce County Sheriff's Department, which shows that Bales' was accused of sexually harassing a woman in 2008.

According to the document, an intoxicated Bales tried to pull the woman's hand to his crotch outside a bowling alley in Tacoma, Washington and then punched and kicked the woman's boyfriend.

Bales' lawyer declined to comment on the report.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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