Gunman would be brought to trial: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Pentagon Monday said the lone gunman who killed 16 civilians in Kandahar in an “horrific” incident on Sunday would be brought to trial, but asserted that this should be seen as an isolated incident.
“This is an isolated incident. We will pursue accountability for the alleged actions of this service member,” Pentagon Press Secretary, George Little, told reporters during an off camera news conference here.
An investigation is currently under way to ascertain the facts and bring the culprit to book. “A full investigation is underway, a suspect is in custody and we will hold anyone found responsible fully accountable,” Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton told reporters in New York.
“We have had a difficult and complex few weeks in Afghanistan. That is obvious to everyone. This terrible incident does not change our steadfast dedication to protecting the Afghan people and to do everything we can to help build a strong and stable Afghanistan. So we remain committed to the goals that we and our partners have set forth,” Clinton asserted.
At the Pentagon, Little said the Pentagon through its investigation would ascertain all the facts. “We want to make sure we have a complete picture of what happened in this horrific event. And we prepare for possible criminal prosecution,” Little said.
The Pentagon did not reveal the soldier’s name, noting it would be released when the charges are filed. However, US media reported that the unidentified soldier is an army staff sergeant.
The soldier had been stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a sprawling military installation in Washington. A few soldiers from this base are reported to have similar violent incidents in the past. Little did not respond to questions related to the mental health of the soldier.
“We are deeply troubled it happened and are very interested in knowing why the alleged shooter might have done this. But the actions of one individual will not force the United States to change its fundamental strategy in Afghanistan,” Little said.
Meanwhile, another US official appealed for “calm” in Afghanistan. “We are fully aware that this is going to raise or has the possibility of raising ire and emotions in a place where tensions are already running high. We would appeal for calm,” the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference.
“We recognize that this is terrible tragedy for the Afghan people, but we can also pledge that our commitment to building a better, stronger, more prosperous Afghanistan's going to continue and also in this particular case, we're going to pursue justice and accountability on the part of the Afghan victims,” Toner said.
Responding to a question, Toner hoped that there will be no large scale protest against the tragic incident, which he termed it as an isolated case involving one US soldier. “We don't want to see any more violence in any way, shape or form generated by this terrible incident,” he added.
A top Obama aide at a White House news conference ruled out any change in the 2014 deadline to complete security transition to the Afghan security forces.
“The pace of that withdrawal will depend on a variety of factors that will certainly be discussed in Chicago at the NATO meeting and will be discussed running up to Chicago and in the aftermath of Chicago,” White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney said.
“It will be determined by a variety of factors related to the situation on the ground. But it is important in the aftermath of this terrible and tragic incident to remember why we are there and what our objectives are, in terms of the United States' national security,” added Carney.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.