US soldier will plead guilty to avoid execution

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A US soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last year has agreed to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, his lawyers say.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will enter his plea in a hearing on 5 June.

Prosecutors say he left his remote base in southern Afghanistan in the early hours of the morning and attacked two nearby villages, killing mostly women and children.

The BBC's David Loyn in Kabul said some of his victim's families "will be very perplexed that he is not to be executed."

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