NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Taliban is vowing vengeance after a U.S. soldier’s alleged shooting rampage.

An Army Staff Sergeant is in custody. He allegedly left his base at around 3 a.m. Sunday, walked to two nearby villages and went house-to-house shooting civilians.

Afghan officials say 16 people died in all including three women and nine children.

“He dragged the boys by their hair and shot them in the mouth,” one Afghan woman claimed. Other witnesses say the gunman set the bodies on fire.

“Those family members will demand revenge. They have to have it for the sake of their honor, for the sake of their families, for the sake of themselves,” CBS News consultant Jere Van Dyke said.

New York Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security committee, says the shooting will reignite anger.

“This is definitely going to hurt our situation, it’s gonna make it more dangerous for Americans in Afghanistan, both military and civilian,” King said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the killings unforgiveable. President Barack Obama has promised a full investigation and that those responsible will be held accountable.

The Pentagon has not released the suspect’s name. CBS News has learned he was assigned to a Special Forces unit on a “village stabilization operation,” where troops develop closer ties with local leaders.

This was the suspect’s first tour in Afghanistan, but he’d served three tours in Iraq. He was based at Fort Lewis in Washington State. Officials there recently suspended the chief medical administrator due to problems with screening and treating soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder.

What do you think of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan? Sound off in our comments section below. 

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