A U.S. Army staff sergeant is in military custody following a gruesome shooting spree in rural villages of Afghanistan Sunday that killed at least 16 civilians, nine of them children. The suspect is believed to have carried out the shootings alone before surrendering to military authorities, the New York Times reported. "The initial reporting that we have at this time indicates there was one shooter, and we have one man in custody," said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a NATO spokesman.
The sergeant reportedly walked a mile from his base into the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province, where residents of three villages described the killer going from door to door and breaking into three houses. He eventually gathered 11 bodies, including four girls under the age of six, and set fire to them, they said.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings as an "inhuman and intentional act" and issued a statement demanding justice. Both President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the President to express condolences and promise thorough investigations. "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 White House statement.
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