Obama Calls For Thorough Investigation Into Killings Of Afghan Civilians
“The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered. We're heartbroken over the loss of innocent life,” Obama said before attending a White House event Tuesday.
Obama said he ordered Pentagon officials to follow the facts no matter where they lead and to hold those responsible accounted to the full extent of the law.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters traveling with him to meetings in Kyrgyzstan that the soldier could potentially face the death penalty.
According to CNN, the Army sergeant allegedly went door-to-door in a village near his outpost Sunday, killing 16 people including nine children and three women.
“He turned himself in after the killings, the military said. The Army's Criminal Investigation Command is leading the investigation. The suspect has not been charged.”
The killings sparked an attack by Taliban fighters outside a memorial service at a mosque in southern Afghanistan Tuesday. An Afghan soldier charged with protecting two of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers was killed in the attack.
The firefight is not the only reaction to the Sunday killings. From CBS News:
The gunbattle came as images of the aftermath of Sunday's killings spread across the country, and the public reaction — which at first seemed surprisingly muted — began to build.
In the east, students staged the first significant protest in response to the killings, raising concerns about a repeat of the wave of violent demonstrations that rocked the nation after last month's burning of Korans by troops at a U.S. base.
Burning an effigy of President Obama and chanting "Death to America," the protesters in the city of Jalalabad demanded the accused U.S. soldier face a public trial in their own country.
U.S. officials say there are no current plans to modify the drawdown plan for the removal of U.S. troops as a result of the massacre.