By Tom Cohen
Condolences, calls for justice and questions arose from across the political spectrum Sunday in response to reports that at a U.S. soldier shot to death 16 civilians in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama said he was "deeply saddened" by the reported killings and offered condolences families and loved ones of the victims "and to the people of Afghanistan, who have endured too much violence and suffering.
"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 that endorsed the announcement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta of an investigation.
By CNN Political Unit
(CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday that the recent shooting of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier was "very very sad" and that "our hearts go out to these innocent people."
"One of our soldiers went into a couple of homes and just killed people at random – very very sad especially following that incident dealing with the Qurans," Reid, D-Nevada, said on CNN's "State of the Union." "It's just not a good situation. Our troops are under such tremendous pressure in Afghanistan. It's a war unlike no other war we've been involved in, but no one can condone or make any suggestion that what he did was right. It was absolutely wrong."
An American soldier left his base and shot Afghan civilians in Kandahar province, killing 16 people and wounding an unspecified number of others, provincial council member Haji Agha Lali said Sunday.
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By Sara Sidner
KABUL, Afghanistan(CNN) - An American soldier left his base in Afghanistan and went from house to house in two villages, killing 16 people in their homes, a provincial official told CNN Sunday.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed that a soldier had gone off base and fired on civilians before turning himself in, but did not say how many victims there had been.
There has been confusion about the number of casualties since the shooting in Kandahar province, eastern Afghanistan, with different sources offering different numbers.
Regardless of the number of victims, the incident looks likely to inflame tensions still further between foreign troops and Afghan civilians, many of whom were enraged by the burning of Qurans by American troops last month.
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