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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 170-12
March 11, 2012

Statement by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on the Tragic Incident in Kandahar Province

            “Today I spoke to President Karzai to offer my deepest condolences and profound regret for the tragic incident in Kandahar province that resulted in the loss of life and injuries to innocent Afghan civilians, including women and children.

             “A full investigation is already underway.  A suspect is in custody, and I gave President Karzai my assurances that we will bring those responsible to justice.  We will spare no effort in getting the facts as quickly as possible, and we will hold any perpetrator who is responsible for this violence fully accountable under the law.

             “I condemn such violence and am shocked and saddened that a U.S. service member is alleged to be involved, clearly acting outside his chain of command.  I told President Karzai that the American people share the outrage felt by President Karzai and his fellow citizens.  This tragic incident does not reflect the commitment of the U.S. military to protect the Afghan people and help build a strong and stable Afghanistan.

             “As we mourn today with the Afghan people, we are steadfast in our resolve to work hand in hand with our Afghan partners to accomplish the missions and goals on which we have been working together for so long.  This terrible incident does not reflect our shared values or the progress we have made together.  As I told President Karzai, I am fully committed to ensuring that our cooperation continues.  It is essential to forging a more peaceful future for the citizens of both our nations.”