Reporter Yalda Hakim of Australia’s SBS network has become the first western journalist to visit the villages where a U.S. soldier allegedly killed 17 people.
In a remarkable report she talks with some of the survivors and some Afghan guards on duty at the military camp from where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales left on his alleged killing spree.
The video at the top of this story is Hakim’s account of her journey to the remote villages near Kandahar and what she was told.
Bales is now held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
The events of that March night in a rural area some 20 kilometers from Kandahar are being investigated by both the U.S. military and Afghan authorities.
But much remains unknown.
Many Afghans, including some of the survivors that night, believe more than one U.S. soldier was present in the two villages where the killings took place. Others speak of seeing a single American soldier leaving Camp Belambai that night.
The U.S. military says there is no evidence that more than one man was involved in the shootings. Bales has not entered a plea.
The killings made headlines around the world.
She argued that part of the problem was the risk of traveling around Afghanistan and the lack of communications in remote villages.
But she said it was her impression as a journalist, reader and citizen that victims of tragedies in developing nations are not given anywhere near the same coverage or attention as victims in developed nations by the international press.