President Barack Obama said the “tragic” killing of at least 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. Army staff sergeant, hasn’t altered his strategy for turning over security responsibility to local forces by 2014.
The incident shows “the importance of us transitioning in accordance with my plans” so that Afghans take the lead in security and U.S. troops can come home, Obama said in an interview with WFTV Television in Orlando, Florida. He also said “it’s not going to get any easier” for U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the next few months.
In response to a question, Obama said the shooting in Afghanistan is “not comparable” to the 1968 massacre of more than 300 hundred civilians by a group of U.S. soldiers in My Lai during the Vietnam War.
“It appears that you had a lone gunman who acted on his own in just a tragic, tragic way,” Obama said in the interview, one of eight he conducted today with local and regional news programs.
A suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, was being held in pretrial confinement by the U.S. military in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
“In no way is this representative” of members of the U.S. armed forces, Obama said. The president said he talked to Afghan President Hamid Karzai “and expressed my condolences.”
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