Soldier Interrogated, Taliban Calls All US Soldiers “Savages”
AFGHANISTAN — The Taliban said in a statement posted on their website Sunday that “American savages” committed the “blood-soaked and inhumane crime”, but a Pentagon spokesman maintains a single American soldier acted alone when he opened fire Sunday on civilians in Southern Afghanistan, killed 16 people, including 9 children.
According to a spokesperson, an army staff sergeant walked more than a mile from his base in the Kandahar province to carry out the killings. Reports say he went from house to house, killing those inside and may have set some on fire. He then reportedly walked back to his base and turned himself in. The suspect is a married father of two, on his fourth deployment, and is currently being interrogated.
“We’re going to let the facts and the evidence take us wherever they need to take us to figure out exactly what happened. What the motivation was here and then hold the individual responsible, accountable through US law,” said Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
President Obama said in a statement: “This incident is tragic and shocking and does not represent the exceptional character of our military.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and President Obama called President Karzai to express their condolences and promised a thorough investigation.
The U.S., long unwelcome in the region, was already facing mounting hostility because of last month’s incident in which troops burned the Koran and other religious material because they said the material was full of messages that instigated violence against the United States. The US apologized and said it was not the proper way to dispose of religious books.
Sunday morning talk shows debated and discussed the situation in the Mideast and what America’s course should be there.
Still in the running, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said:
“I think we have to reconsider the whole region. We need to understand that our being in the middle of countries like Afghanistan is probably counterproductive. We’re not prepared to be ruthless enough to force them to change,” Gingrich said.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted videotaped condolences in the primary languages of Pashto and Dari. It also warned Americans in the country to beware of the “risk of anti-American feelings and protests in coming days, especially in eastern and southern provinces.”
“U.S. citizens in Afghanistan should remain vigilant and avoid areas where Westerners congregate. Avoid large public gatherings or demonstrations. Past demonstrations in Afghanistan have escalated into violent attacks on Western targets of opportunity.
“Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers, or in public. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and always travel with mobile phones or appropriate communication equipment,” the warning reads.