Civilians Killed in US Soldier's Rampage

Soldier taken into custody after shooting 16 Afghan women and children.
4:06 | 03/11/12

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Transcript for Civilians Killed in US Soldier's Rampage
-- developing story overseas an American soldier who went on the attack in Afghanistan. One soldier from Fort Lewis in Washington State who went -- -- and Afghan village opening fire on women and children. Tonight the villagers are gathering the bodies covering them and blankets placing them in trucks a woman there mourning her grandchild a young man grieving for his murdered family. Here's what we -- -- as many as sixteen civilians were killed most of the victims were children and at least five others were wounded. In a -- Martha Raddatz in Washington with the White House reaction and what she's learning tonight. But first ABC's -- -- of reporting in from the region on the attack and on the fallout that's just beginning. The spent shell casings a -- witness to the carnage in the middle of the night -- -- -- sixteen Afghans among them nine children and three women. Gunned down all while the village slipped. They killed -- child says this grieving mother was this child part of the Taliban. NATO officials say -- -- army staff sergeant left his base went to the nearby village then went on the Rampage. He went house to house door to door shooting victims at random in cold blood photos from the scene -- blood splattered on floors and walls bodies wrapped in blankets. When the slaughter was over the 38 year old from Fort Lewis Washington returned to the base and turned himself in. The soldier is married with two children and served three -- -- indie -- this was his first assignment to left. With authority and we also have the individual the suspect in custody US custody. And he's -- interrogated. By army investigators as we speak. The response was immediate and furious Afghan President Hamid Karzai calling this an assassination. It cannot be forgiven. And from general John Allen head of the US mission now promising our rapid and thorough investigation. The fear now is that this latest incident could set off a fresh wave of violence one it's much worse than we've seen in the past. The US embassy in Kabul is already warning Americans to keep a low profile. And that's -- -- bond. Is vowing revenge. David. Mohammed -- -- tonight Mohammad thank you -- want to bring in our senior national security correspondent Martha Raddatz just back from the region and Martha you saw what the White House put out today that image of President Obama on the phone. Reaching out to Afghan President Karzai. And the president with a statement saying that this incident is tragic and shocking. And does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect -- the United States has for the people of Afghanistan but Martha. It's impossible as you and I were saying earlier to overstate what this could due to an already fragile relationship. That's true David you know just a couple of weeks ago you and I were talking about the burning of the Koran. But the US can say that was inadvertent the soldiers who burned out ground it was a mistake. This was not a mistake it was a cold blooded murder. A one man massacre and the Taliban will take advantage of this. We -- supposed to be winning the hearts and minds of the people this is a huge setback. A terrible terrible tragedy what you've been there are so many times you've talked to so many -- American troops who work. So hard to build these relationships in the region this particular soldier -- -- up to me earlier this afternoon have been deployed four times is gonna lead to questions about. Due to mental strain what this does to a soldier when they go back as often as this -- did. And that's exactly the question David they are interrogating him but they are also looking into his background. For deployment think about it in the last eight or nine years this soldier has been gone about half the time from his own family. There's absolutely no excuse for what happened but they are going to look into mental stability. Was he suffering from post traumatic stress you've seen in the military over the years -- huge spike in suicides. A huge spike in post traumatic stress so yes David that's exactly what they'll be looking all right Martha -- we always appreciate your context your insight and we thank you tonight.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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