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Court-martial opens for officer on murder charges

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FORT BRAGG, NC (AP) -- Soldiers who served under an 82nd Airborne Division lieutenant have testified that the officer ordered members of his platoon to shoot any Afghans they saw on motorcycles during a patrol last summer

The Fayetteville Observer reports Pvt. Zachary Thomas, who was on the patrol on July 2, 2012, said 1st Lt. Clint Lorance's first words to another soldier who reported seeing a motorcycle were "Why aren't you shooting yet?"

Lorance is charged with murder, attempted murder, making false statements, ordering soldiers to wrongfully discharge their firearms and impeding the investigation. His court-martial opened Tuesday.

Lorance faces life in prison. His lawyers say he was trying to protect his unit.

Prosecutors say three men on a motorcycle approached the patrol last July. Two were killed and the third ran away.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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