The White House says the U.S. will not change its strategy or objectives in Afghanistan following the shooting deaths of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says the U.S. and its NATO allies are still on course to hand over security control to the Afghans at the end of 2014. Carney says the pace of withdrawal will depend on a variety of factors, but he would not say whether the weekend incident was among those that would be considered.
Meanwhile, more details are emerging about the U.S. soldier suspected of gunning down at least 16 Afghan civilians over the weekend. According to a Congressional source, the soldier was from a Stryker brigade based in Washington state, and had received his
assignment to a village stability program less than six weeks ago.
Retaliation. That's the word being used by the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to Sunday's shootings. It leaves U.S. troops in that country in an even more vulnerable situation.
News that an American soldier left his barracks Sunday and went on a door-to-door shooting rampage in two Afghan villages has left many shocked and horrified. The shooter, identified only as an Army staff sergeant, killed 16 civilians, nine of them children.
"I was shocked and saddened by the killings of innocent Afghan villagers this weekend. We send our condolences to families who have lost their loved ones and to the people of Afghanistan. This is not who we are and the United States in committed to seeing that those responsible are held accountable,” said Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State.
Afghan villagers are said to be furious at both American and Afghan security forces. The government in Afghanistan calls this an unforgivable crime.
Margaret Corbin, a member of the United Nations Association of Rochester, says retaliation is not the way to respond. She believes U.S. and Afghan leaders can work this out without further conflict, but it will take time and patience.
“The strength of the United Nations makes it possible for us to take our time because we're strong. If we weren't strong, and I think this is what happens with the Taliban and other smaller organizations, they're in a hurry to get in there and stir things up. We have the strength; the United States has the strength to take its time," Corbin said.
The soldier suspected in the killings turned himself in. The Afghanistan parliament is calling for him to be tried publically before the Afghan people.