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Soldier’s family ‘stunned’ over Afghan killings

SEATTLE (AP) – The family of a U.S. Army sergeant suspected of killing 16 Afghan villagers says they are “stunned” but stand behind “the man they know as a devoted husband, father and dedicated member of the armed services.”

The statement released by Robert Bales’ defense team late Saturday also says his attorneys plan to spend several days meeting with him next week at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.’s military prison.

The 10-year veteran hasn’t been charged yet in the shootings, which have endangered relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan and threaten to upend U.S. policy over the decade-old war.

The defense team says that it’s “too early to determine what factors may have played into this incident.”

Bales is being represented by Seattle attorney John Henry Browne.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)