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Published on Mar 13, 2012
The U.S. Army soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan men, women and children in a house-to-house shooting rampage could face the death penalty, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said. Afghan protesters angered by the weekend killings of 16 civilians blocked a major highway Tuesday as U.S. President Barack Obama said U.S. officials were "heartbroken" by the deaths. A U.S. Army sergeant is accused of killing the Afghan villagers in what top commanders say was a rampage Sunday morning near Kandahar. A protest in Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan, drew hundreds of people Tuesday, with demonstrators blocking the highway to Kabul, provincial government spokesman Ahmad Zaii Abdulzai said. "We are in the process of trying to reopen," Abdulzai told CNN. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a fresh denunciation of the attack Tuesday. And in Washington, Obama told reporters that "the United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens and our own children who were murdered." "We are heartbroken at the loss of innocent life," he said. "The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous, and it is unacceptable. It is not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military."