The Obama administration has announced there will be no change of course in Afghanistan. The news comes as anti-American outrage is at an all-time high there after a U.S. soldier brutally murdered 16 Afghan civilians.
The shooting massacre in Afghanistan is forcing American officials to do damage control. They're urging both the American people and the Afghans to focus on the U.S. mission -- defeating al Qaeda.
"I hope that everyone understands in Afghanistan and around the world that the United States is committed to seeing Afghanistan continue its move toward a stable, secure, prosperous, democratic state," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
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"As tragic as these events are, the strategy is focused on disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda, stabilizing Afghanistan so that Afghan security forces can take responsibility for security of their own country," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
But for many Afghans, a fragile trust has been broken. Hundreds took to the streets Tuesday morning to protest the massacre.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military is investigating the incident and has yet to release the name of the shooter.
The suspect is reported to have suffered a mild brain injury during one of his tours in Iraq and to have had some trouble re-adjusting when he returned home.
"Commanders I've talked to say it could take them a few weeks to sort of step back and say, 'Do we have any other soldiers out there who have been deployed,' so many times that they too are ticking time bombs?'" Associated Press Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier said.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the death penalty is being considered in the case. But he also stressed that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan must not be derailed.
"War is hell," he said. "These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place. They've taken place in any war. They're terrible events. This is not the first of those events, and it probably won't be the last."
Meanwhile, Taliban terrorists opened fire Tuesday on an Afghan government delegation that was visiting Kandahar province, one of the shooting sites. One Afghan soldier was killed.
This incident comes after the Taliban vowed to kill and behead anyone responsible for the attacks.