US President Barack Obama following a telephone coversation with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai has expressed deep sadness at a ‘tragic and shocking’ shooting incident in Afghanistan, after a US soldier allegedly killed 16 civilians, mostly women and children.
At least 16 Afghan civilians including 9 Afghan kids along with adults were killed after a US soldier opened fire on them in Pajwai district of southern Kandahar province early Sunday morning.
The unnamed US soldier, who is said to have been suffering from a nervous breakdown, walked out of his military base in Panjwai district by around 3 am local time, and shot dead civilians in four houses in two neighboring villages in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar on Sunday.
President Barack Obama promised a speedy investigation into the “shocking” killing of 16 Afghans by a rogue US soldier, which fuelled tensions after the burning of Korans at a US-run base.
He said, “I offer my condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering.”
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also called Karzai, and told him that a comprehensive probe into the incident has begun.
The Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Gen. John R. Allen, said he was “shocked and saddened to hear of the shooting incident today in Kandahar Province.” He pledged to “all the noble people of Afghanistan” his “commitment to a rapid and thorough investigation.”
This comes as the relations between the two nations plunged to an all-time low last month after the burning of Korans at an American-run military base sparked days of anti-US protests, which left some 40 people dead and prompted an apology from Obama.
US officials have apologised repeatedly for the incident at a Nato base in Kabul but they failed to quell a series of protests and attacks that killed at least 30 people and six US troops.
In an angry statement after the Kandahar shootings, Karzai said that “when Afghan people are killed deliberately by US forces, this action is murder and terror and an unforgivable action”.
He demanded an explanation into the attack, which he said will not be forgiven.
The US embassy in Kabul sent out an alert to its citizens in Afghanistan warning that as a result of the shooting, “there is a risk of anti-American feelings and protests in coming days”.