- (Photo: Reuters / Bob Strong)
The Taliban has issued a call for revenge after yesterday's massacre by a U.S. soldier, prompting concern from leaders of both the U.S. and Afghanistan.
"Sick-minded American savages" committed "blood-soaked and inhumane crime," a message on the Taliban's website reads. Their anger stems from an attack on two homes in the Panjwai district of Afghanistan, where the Taliban has ruled and held power.
In the early morning hours, a U.S. soldier, still not being named by officials, left the Afghan base where he was stationed. He entered two homes, killing 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, before setting the bodies on fire. He later turned himself in to authorities.
The soldier's motives are unknown at this time, but U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have condemned the killings.
"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said in a statement.
Obama has promised "to get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible."
Now the Taliban has joined in the call for justice and revenge, saying they would take action "for every single martyr with the help of Allah."
In light of the Taliban's threat, the U.S. Embassy has warned Americans of the possibility of attacks and has heightened the level of security for U.S. citizens in the country.
"The so-called American peacekeepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province," a statement emailed to the press by the Taliban read.
The massacre brings new fear for the stability of relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan, especially at a time when the U.S. is attempting to draw down troops in the country. Last month Afghans were enraged when U.S. forces burned copies of the Quran, and 30 people were killed in retaliatory attacks led by anti-American groups.
Karzai has agreed to sign an agreement with the U.S. in May that will formalize plans for U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the transfer of power in 2014 and confirm the relationship between the two countries. "We have a strong army and police, so it is to our benefit to have good relations with the international community, not have international troops in our country," Karzai said at a public event.
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has weighed in on the situation. "I think that we have to reassess the entire region," he told hosts on CBS' Face the Nation.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have not offered their opinion of the situation.
"We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident and are monitoring the situation closely," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a public statement.