President Barack Obama, addressing the nature of the Afghan killings that occurred over the weekend at the hands of an American soldier, has said that the death of Afghan civilians is as horrific and intolerable as the death of U.S. citizens.
"Over the weekend, as many of you know, there was a tragic incident in which a number of Afghan civilians were killed," Obama said Tuesday in a brief statement at the White House. "The United States takes this seriously as if it was our own citizens and our own children who were murdered."
"The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous and it's unacceptable. Its not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military," Obama said, adding that the U.S. was "heartbroken" over the loss of Afghan civilian lives.
The president also insisted that a thorough investigation into the incident would be conducted.
"I can assure the American and the Afghan people that we will follow the facts wherever they lead us and we will make sure that anybody who was involved is held fully accountable with the full force of the law."
Sunday's tragic incident is the latest in a series of events that have strained relations between Afghanistan and the United States, and left many Afghan civilians weary of the U.S. war effort in their country.
Late last year, a video of U.S. troops urinating on Taliban corpses emerged and angered many, and just last month the burning of Qurans at a joint U.S.-NATO base in the country caused a violent uproar of protests that left over 30 people dead, including Afghan civilians and U.S. soldiers.
Sunday's incident has left Afghan villagers in the remote region and citizens across the country particularly disillusioned with U.S. forces.
"This base told us to come back to our villages. They said 'we wont bother you. This is your land and this is your own village," an Afghan woman told CNN. "Then those dogs come and grab us," a nearby villager added.
"When the Americans first came, it was people like me who welcomed them. Now they are killing our women and children," a truck driver from Kandahar told The Washington Post.
Afghanistan's Ulema Council, which is an assembly of the country's religious scholars, also condemned the killings in a Tuesday statement saying "if this is repeated again, it will be difficult to control people's sentiments and prevent general uproar."
The Taliban has lashed out over the incident, posting gruesome pictures of the attacks on its website and vowing to take revenge for the massacre by "sick-minded American savages." On Tuesday morning the group released a statement urging its followers to behead all Americans in the country.
U.S. officials say that it is unclear when charges will be filed against the soldier responsible for the attack. The identity of the soldier remains undisclosed until official charges are filed.