Panetta in Afghanistan After Civilian massacre

Posted March 14th, 2012 at 2:40 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is in Afghanistan to try to calm the fury after a U.S. soldier allegedly shot 16 civilians to death this week, including nine children.

Panetta told reporters Tuesday that “war is hell” and that these kind of terrible events happen in every war. He said the killings probably will not be the last, but that the military will do everything possible to make sure they do not happen again.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said the United States takes the incident as seriously as if it were its our own citizens who were murdered. He said the killing of innocent civilians “is outrageous and unacceptable” and does not represent what the United States is.

He said he has extraordinary confidence in U.S. military leaders and troops. He reasserted that despite the public outrage, there will be no hasty U.S. retreat from Afghanistan.

The Taliban has threatened to behead Americans because of the murders. Taliban militants opened fire on a memorial servicefor the 16 villagers Tuesday in Kandahar, killing an Afghan soldier and wounding a policeman.

Hundreds of university students protested Tuesday in Jalalabad in the first significant public demonstration against the killings. Many of the marchers chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Obama.”

U.S. and Afghan officials say Sunday's carnage took place when a U.S. soldier walked off his base and shot and killed civilians in their homes in the Panjwai district of Kandahar. Villagers say he set some of the bodies on fire.