March 28th, 2012
06:06 PM ET

Grieving survivors describe Afghan massacre

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.

Here CNN correspondent Sara Sidner explains her thoughts on the massacre victims.

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.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army • War • World
soundoff (331 Responses)
  1. Allen

    How terrible. Just a tragic situation that reaffirms the need for us to GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!!! There is only ONE presidential candidate we can trust to bring all of the exhausted troops home....Ron Paul. Let's admit how it was a mistake for us to occupy their country for a decade and give the Afghans their country back.

    March 29, 2012 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    Our exit from the Afghan quagmire of our own making is past due.
    We achieved zilch during the past decade of getting our service personnel killed and squandering national treasure. Seriously damaging our prestige, credibility & clout, turning the entire region hostile to us. And exposing our weaknesses to powers like China,Russia,India & Iran.
    The mind set that is responsible for US getting itself trapped in Iraq & Afghanistan needs to be prosecuted for crimes against America.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. danny

    Go talk to the Taliban, they are the problem.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. saywhat

    As one of our greatest writers Mark Twain said" travel is the enemy of bigotry, prejudice and narrow mindedness" when he too admittedly shunned his bigotry.
    If you know them then you must know that Afghans are not pathological liars, they have been known for selling their services for money. Its the politicians on all sides who are known for this 'trait'.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike Weston

    This soldier is a HERO...the only thing he executed here was the new program called the "Future Terrorist Prevention Program (FTPP)

    March 29, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • mm

      And you sir, are an idiot.
      How fortunate for you that we have not started to shoot idots.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rabbit One

    the most special gesture would be for the US to pull out its troops and return them home – why must our taxes be indefatigably wasted on the mindless murder of humans worldwide – when at home the powers that be will not ever give us our taxes in the form of education and health care – instead our taxes disappear into these wars – you know

    March 29, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Why havent they had an interview with the children of the soldiers killed on base by the "so called" soldier at Fort Hood? Yelling Ala Akbar.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tiny tony

    his wife said he did not do it. i mean come on, who put her on tv with this type of interview.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Rodeo_Joe

    The whole world is watching – 24/7 – Sgt. Bales' mass murder of children, Trayvon Martin's shooter not arrested.

    America loves it's guns. America does not love people of color. The whole world is watching.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. dwighthuth

    Why gas prices are so high – A New way to combat terrorism.

    Become a Charity Warrior – "Start your attack runs."

    Another reason why gas prices are so high is too keep people from donating their money to the charities that help bring in extra money that goes towards research that funds many types of cancer research as well as helping those here in the U.S. and across the planet by being able to purchase clothes, medicines, food and education for those in third world countries.

    Now you wonder how does supporting overseas missions to help the less fortunate counter terrorism?

    It is very easy to see.

    The terrorists come into a village and force the villagers to be warriors killing those who go against them. The terrorists then use the fighters against their to kill others who do not fall under the will of the terrorist regime.

    but...when donations are collected and then used to purchase medicines, food and clothes for the same village where the money has come from the pockets of Americans the villagers will be given a chance to live a life based upon choice and not being forced to do the bidding of the terrorist warlord that would only use them to kill others.

    Now is the time to create a new front against terrorism.

    Whenever someone calls and asks for a donation even though the amount may seem high and not affordable the amount that you donate is part of the war on terror that will push back terrorism by giving those that the terrorists would use in their killing machine the ability to make a choice in siding with democracy instead of being forced to be a suicide bomber.

    If you cannot afford the amount asked for donate at least $5.00.

    Be a Charity Warrior in the fight against global terrorism and support the charities that are trying to make the lives of people in third world countries better....don't let the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces get to them first.

    Every amount that you donate to any charity makes you a fighter against global terrorism.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dwighthuth

    Combating Terrorism

    Why gas prices are so high – A New way to combat terrorism.

    Become a Charity Warrior – "Start your attack runs."

    Another reason why gas prices are so high is too keep people from donating their money to the charities that help bring in extra money that goes towards research that funds many types of cancer research as well as helping those here in the U.S. and across the planet by being able to purchase clothes, medicines, food and education for those in third world countries.

    Now you wonder how does supporting overseas missions to help the less fortunate counter terrorism?

    It is very easy to see.

    The terrorists come into a village and force the villagers to be warriors killing those who go against them. The terrorists then use the fighters against their to kill others who do not fall under the will of the terrorist regime.

    but...when donations are collected and then used to purchase medicines, food and clothes for the same village where the money has come from the pockets of Americans the villagers will be given a chance to live a life based upon choice and not being forced to do the bidding of the terrorist warlord that would only use them to kill others.

    Now is the time to create a new front against terrorism.

    Whenever someone calls and asks for a donation even though the amount may seem high and not affordable the amount that you donate is part of the war on terror that will push back terrorism by giving those that the terrorists would use in their killing machine the ability to make a choice in siding with democracy instead of being forced to be a suicide bomber.

    If you cannot afford the amount asked for donate at least $5.00.

    Be a Charity Warrior in the fight against global terrorism and support the charities that are trying to make the lives of people in third world countries better....don't let the Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces get to them first.

    Every amount that you donate to any charity makes you a fighter against global terrorism.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. red-white-and-sorrow

    I am a united states soldier and for that reason I can not fully express my opinion or views on the matter. I cant say whether or not Sgt. Bale is inoccent or guilty or that he did these things alone. What I can say is that whoever did this crime against humanity is pure evil in anyones eyes. There is no excuse for such behavior whether it be american afghan, or any other nations people for that matter. It is sad and sick that someone could do something like that. Though it probably doesnt mean much to the survivors and the afghan people,I hope that just this once we can put religon and politics aside, and you can accept my deepest sorrows and apologies for what you have been through. I may be an American and a soldier at that but I am still a human being just like the people that were murder, and I hope the world can learn somthing from this horrific event so that the men,woman and children did not die sensless.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. curiousdwk

    It seems to me that the initial official report was that Bales went out on his own and when it was discovered he had gone, a group went out to retrieve him. So it may be correct that Bales was the only one involved with the shooting however the witnesses may be correct in saying they saw multiple men – the men sent to retrieve Bales. Both sides may be correct in their reporting.

    I was disappointed that the US flew Bales out of the country immediately rather than have him stand trial in Afghanistan. Since he acted on his own behalf, and committed the crimes on Afghanistan lan, he should be tried by the Afghani people. The Afghanis were deprived of the one piece of justice they were allowed – to see that their justice was performed.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kashiwa

    Did I miss CNN's report about the Rhode Island guardsman who died saving a young Afghan girl?

    Sgt. Dennis Weichel Jr., 29, died March 22 after being struck by an armored vehicle in Laghman province. Army officials said the accident occurred when the child ran into the path of the vehicle to retrieve an item, and Weichel rushed to push her out of the way.

    http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/afghanistan/guardsman-killed-saving-afghan-girl-hailed-as-a-hero-1.172969

    March 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hadenuffyet

    war is hell....

    March 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chris

    Now Americans are the bad guys because a few troops went awalll? this is not the support we need think of how many innocent lives we saved being there and now the afghans are seeming ungrateful im sure our troops would rather be home in there beds then fighting for someone else half a world away.Justice should be done but dont make the United States look like the bad guy how many other country's are willing to help as much as the U.S over there not many at all. Not down talking this situation but this happening do you people think our military leaders are just sitting back with there feet propped up not concerned about a American troop killing innocent people? Guess this is just another reason for people to hate on America for a few soldiers actions . I support our troops till the return home!

    March 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @chris: awalll? normally, i ignore spelling mistakes, etc. but clearly, i might really be able to help here. i trust the 3 Ls is just a typo.

      AWOL, like many military 'words', is an acronym. it means 'absent without leave'. remembering that will help you remember how to spell it.

      you are very welcome.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
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