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We Begin tonight with a deepening crisis in Afghanistan officials -- say United States soldiers shot and killed sixteen civilians.
Several of them women and children.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai calling it an intentional killing at an assassination of innocent people the White House and the Pentagon today.
Condemning the attack and now leaders from both governments looking for answers the attack happened in two villages near a US -- In southern Kandahar Province witnesses telling the Associated Press an American man in uniform walked into three different homes and opened fire.
Before apparently returning to the base.
And turning himself then.
According to a statement from the Afghan president one teenager claims the soldier woke up this entire family and began shooting.
NATO officials saying they now have the suspect in custody.
At this point it's still unclear what sparked the attack but foreign policy experts say one thing is certain.
This could not -- happened at a worse time.
You may recall last month Afghan workers say they found burned Muslim holy -- that another NATO base.
Word of the -- triggering violent protests and attacks that killed six.
They don't service members four of them Americans.
President Obama and members of the military apologized calling the -- unintentional.
And as recently as Friday tensions over that book burnings seem to have cooled off just a bit.
As the Obama administration said it was considering transferring five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo military person to cover.
The thought that it might possibly be an incentive for the Taliban to enter peace talks Washington has not yet agreed to that plan.
And some in congress oppose it.
And a short time ago the White House releasing this photograph of mr.
Obama calling Afghan President Karzai to expressing shock and sadness at the tragedy.
President Obama also saying this in a statement earlier 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.
This incident is tragic and shocking.
And does not -- -- the exceptional character of our military.
And the respect that the United States house for the people of Afghanistan.
Joining us now pentagon spokesman captain John Kirby captain get it to happen tonight.
Thanks -- -- me on I appreciate some reports now have some.
They say that he's from Fort Lewis Washington what can you share about this American man in custody.
Well unfortunately am not.
To be able to get into much detail about the individual himself.
He is being interviewed by investigators right now.
In a secure location.
I can say that he is an American soldier and that he was acting alone.
All right I do know that at least from some reports that this man has family here in the United States married with two children.
What is happening you say he's being interrogated right now a few hours ago the US embassy put out a warning.
About all Americans and Afghanistan wondering what is being done to protect those left behind some 100000 Americans if you put.
To get our troops and contractors and civilians.
We do have quite -- Is there in Afghanistan right now and we always try to be vigilant and mindful of Force Protection measures.
-- on a daily basis and Afghanistan.
Than the military has not been put on any special alert today or this evening as a result of this.
Regional commanders have at that their discretion the ability.
To do what they need to do to protect themselves but but we we haven't taken any extra measures as a result of this and I can tell you move for a fact general Allen made it very clear to his commanders this morning in the wake of this.
Very tragic incident.
That he wants them to continuing gauging engaging with a population engaging with the Afghan national security forces.
The mission hasn't changed and are focused on.
Captain currently I'm glad you brought that out because I know part of the mission and and we hear this.
In quote sometimes win the hearts and minds of the people there on the ground in Afghanistan.
What is our objective there right now and how much does this latest tragedy complicate our ability to achieve that.
Of the mission in Afghanistan is very clear it -- to disrupt dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda and prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a safe haven.
For terrorists again and we we believe that we have made great progress towards towards those -- As evidenced in the south which is actually been.
A very big success story for us in terms of the strategy.
So I think I think we're we're moving ahead in a very positive way and it's very important that as tragic as this incident is and it is tragic.
It will be more tragic for us to let this do you realist from the larger strategy in the mission in Afghanistan what our relationship and Afghanistan now the leaders the people.
Actually it's it's been it's been quite good I mean from from very low level -- The Afghan national security forces and provincial and district governor's all the way to President Karzai.
There's been a real spirit of cooperation of late in spite of all the recent violence that we've seen in the last 67 weeks.
I mean evidenced in fact by.
The memorandum of understanding signed just this weekend.
Between the -- administration and I -- To Begin the transfer of the par wanted detention facility over to full Afghan control in about six months.
I want to get back now to the suspect is in custody after this tragedy there in Afghanistan what happens next after the interrogation.
Well they're interviewing him as a as we speak and they're going to they had they would they've been on site for most of the day collecting evidence.
We need to let this investigation.
Proceeds general Allen promised.
President Karzai in his call this morning that it would be very thorough but a very rapid investigation.
So -- working hard on that right now and I don't think we want to get involved in the process here try to second guess where it's gonna end up.
But I I can tell you that we're gonna let the facts and the evidence take us whatever they need to take us.
To figure out exactly what happened what the motivation was here and then hold the individual responsible accountable.
To -- through US law.
A captain I've been reading today that Afghans some of the civilians there the citizens there saying that they don't believe that just one person was involved in this that there may have been more than one soldier.
What can you tell us about that.
I can tell you that we're we're pretty confident that this was just one individual acting alone and I can -- the one of the reasons we know that is because.
When it was noticed that the individual left the outpost and it that it was noticed and reported up the chain of command.
The commanded exactly the right thing they they took accounting of everybody they had at that outpost to make sure they knew everybody was.
And there was only one person missing and that's how we know that there was really only one individual involved in this.
All right before I let you go bottom line many Americans may be watching and wondering tonight.
Whether this shooting incidents speeds up the exit timeline from Afghanistan I know you said earlier just a moment ago that you didn't think that that strategy would change -- what about that time -- For pulling out.
No there's been no change to to any of the time lines that were on right now the there's been no talk about accelerating.
One way or the other the individual components of the strategy.
The mission continues the direction that -- -- given by the commander in chief is very very clear both with respect to.
The recovery of our surge forces here by the end of the summer.
And frankly the kind of work that he expects that the nation expects us to do on the ground with our Afghan partners every day.
All right and and what about keeping us apprised of what's happening with the interrogation and ensuing investigation and Afghanistan will you be giving updates how much do you think we'll be able to learn about that.
Well again we want to let the investigators do their job and we want them to be able to do that without extra pressures externally.
But to the degree that we can keep that people here in the United States aware and -- we certainly will.
All right captain John Kirby joining us tonight the Pentagon spokesperson thank you very much think you've had.
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