The U.S. military says Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in a shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan.

Premeditated murder is a capital offense and if convicted, Bales could be sentenced to death.

Col. Gary Kolb, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, says Bales was also charged Friday with six counts of attempted murder and six counts of assault.

The 38-year-old father of two from Lake Tapps, Washington, is accused of leaving a U.S. military post on March 11, killing nine Afghan children and eight adults and burning some of the bodies in Panjwai district of Kandahar province.

Six other Afghan civilians were wounded in the attack.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)