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US officials react to killing of Afghan civilians by an American soldier

US officials are scrambling to understand the reported killing of more than a dozen Afghan civilians by an American soldier. A new poll shows most Americans don't think the war is worth the costs.

Afghan soldiers walk past a US Army soldier outside of a military base in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday. A US service member from the base killed more than a dozen people in a shooting, including nine children and three women.

Allauddin Khan/AP

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American officials were scrambling Sunday to understand the reported killing of more than a dozen Afghan civilians by an American soldier.

In a statement Sunday, President Obama said he is “deeply saddened” by the killing of villagers, most of them women and children.

"This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan," Obama said in a statement. "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.”

According to reports from the area, a soldier (identified initially as a US army staff sergeant acting alone) left his base in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province at about 3 a.m. local time, walking to a village where he entered three homes and started shooting. He then returned to his base, where he was taken into custody.

"I gave President Karzai my assurances that we will bring those responsible to justice," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement. "We will spare no effort in getting the facts as quickly as possible, and we will hold any perpetrator who is responsible for this violence fully accountable under the law."


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