Officials Condemn Afghanistan Shooting, Offer Condolences

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2012 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon Panet­ta, Army Gen. Mar­tin Dempsey, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force lead­ers all con­demned a shoot­ing inci­dent in South­ern Afghanistan, and pledged to work with Afghan author­i­ties in ful­ly inves­ti­gat­ing the inci­dent.

“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 released by the White House.

Panet­ta spoke with Afghan Pres­i­dent Hamid Karzai to offer his deep­est con­do­lences and pro­found regret for the trag­ic inci­dent in Kan­da­har province. The inci­dent result­ed in the loss of life and injuries to inno­cent Afghan civil­ians, includ­ing women and chil­dren.

ISAF Com­man­der Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, who is here to tes­ti­fy this week, issued a state­ment today say­ing he was “shocked and sad­dened” to hear of the shoot­ing inci­dent.

“I offer my pro­found regret and deep­est con­do­lences to the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies,” Allen said in his state­ment.

In a Face­book post, Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mar­tin Dempsey offered his con­do­lences to the vic­tims of the attack and their fam­i­lies. “I’m con­fi­dent that Gen­er­al Allen and his staff are tak­ing the appro­pri­ate steps to quick­ly and thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances of this inci­dent,” he said.

Alleged­ly, an Amer­i­can ser­vice mem­ber left his base in Kan­da­har province, entered homes in the area and shot the inhab­i­tants. Karzai said in a state­ment that the ser­vice mem­ber had killed 16 and wound­ed at least five oth­ers.

“I con­demn such vio­lence and am shocked and sad­dened that a U.S. ser­vice mem­ber is alleged to be involved, clear­ly act­ing out­side his chain of com­mand,” Panet­ta said. “I told Pres­i­dent Karzai that the Amer­i­can peo­ple share the out­rage felt by Pres­i­dent Karzai and his fel­low cit­i­zens. This trag­ic inci­dent does not reflect the com­mit­ment of the U.S. mil­i­tary to pro­tect the Afghan peo­ple and help build a strong and sta­ble Afghanistan.”

“I can­not explain the moti­va­tion behind such cal­lous acts, but they were in no way part of autho­rized ISAF mil­i­tary activ­i­ty,” said British Lt. Gen. Adri­an J. Brad­shaw in a writ­ten state­ment. Brad­shaw is deputy ISAF com­man­der.

The ser­vice mem­ber is in ISAF cus­tody and will remain there as ISAF and Afghans con­duct an inves­ti­ga­tion, Allen said. Those wound­ed in the inci­dent are receiv­ing care from ISAF medics. “I am absolute­ly ded­i­cat­ed to mak­ing sure that any­one who is found to have com­mit­ted wrong-doing is held ful­ly account­able,” Allen said.

Panet­ta gave Karzai his assur­ances that U.S. offi­cials will bring those respon­si­ble to jus­tice. “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,” he said in his state­ment.

The inci­dent hap­pens just weeks after riot­ing over the acci­den­tal burn­ing of Qurans at Bagram Air Field.

Both Allen and the Amer­i­can embassy spoke of the part­ner­ship between the Unit­ed States and Afghanistan.

“This deeply appalling inci­dent in no way rep­re­sents the val­ues of ISAF and coali­tion troops or the abid­ing respect we feel for the Afghan peo­ple,” the gen­er­al said. “Nor does it impugn or dimin­ish the spir­it of coop­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship we have worked so hard to fos­ter with the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces.”

An embassy state­ment reit­er­at­ed that the Unit­ed States is com­mit­ted to “an endur­ing part­ner­ship with Afghanistan to obtain greater peace and secu­ri­ty in the region, which is our com­mon inter­est. We deplore any attack by a mem­ber of the U.S. armed forces against inno­cent civil­ians, and denounce all vio­lence against civil­ians. We assure the peo­ple of Afghanistan that the indi­vid­ual or indi­vid­u­als respon­si­ble for this act will be iden­ti­fied and brought to jus­tice.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)