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. Zoglet

    "The killings made headlines around the world but at times it seemed the victims were quickly forgotten."
    Yup., largely by CNN that took over a week to even name a single victim. Since then its all been about the poor Bales stess and his persepective. Any chance CNN will run an article critisising the decision to try this guy in the US instead of Afganistan?Remember Afghanistan, the country where the victims live and who will not see justice thanks to this?

    March 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Z_2k

      Afghan's, like many who post in these forums, do not presume a person is innocent until PROVEN guilty. They like to see people suffer, and to kill; it's seems almost a sport for them, very medieval and primitive.

      March 29, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    Why don't we see the wailing and gnashing of teeth when a terrorist blows up women and children. I don't excuse murder in any form but what about the Fort Hood murderer? He's still waiting for trial. SSG Bales will be made an example just as our country did to PVT Slovik during the Second World War. You don't see this much press from a terrorist bombing.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      You got to understand, this country is too busy being politically correct. The Muslim shrink at Ft. Hood is still eating steak and they are going to hang SSG Bales out to dry. Then again this PC country was stupid enough to elect a Muslim President. Reckon we got what we deserved.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth

      you don't see this much press from a terrorist bombing?? not to belittle either event but there was a thing called 9/11 it was a slightly covered. I hate when everyone gets to put their two cents in, all you get is debt.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • mohammedjesus

      you right Eric, with Osama Bin Laden and his bands of terrorists and co, no condemnation comes from the arabic media, they don't see it as murder but jihad with reward in paradise but same terorrist act now on them the see murder. The arabic gene baffles me, conflicts, wars, religions but I always doubt if they know God or Allah whichever name they prefer.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. oyvavoy

    All of a sudden we start caring about the Afghans. This is a PR campaign to put a human face on US occupation of Afghanistan and CNN is part of it.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      It's an article to draw your attention so CNN can make money. CNN's articles are based off extensive marketing investigations of CNN readers. They send out the "journalists (reporters)", craft the story and serve it to you on a silver platter. While these articles do contain good information you can't always eat it the way it's being fed to you.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. athena

    What I'd like to know is many in the NATO coalition have been killed by turncoat Afghan soldiers and police. Why do you show just one side, CNN? Why hasn't that been reported? It started last year..way before the burnings? We don't know the whole story. People are strapping bombs to their children and sending them near soldiers..I truly wish there was a dependable news source on the planet. We need to see what's really going on. I

    March 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Percy

    End of story - they accepted blood money ,time to move on folks 😉

    March 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. oyvavoy

    CNN and the pentagon are connected together with an umbilical cord

    March 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    So what does CNN think of all the times when the taliban or some other organization kills a bunch of civilians? They rarely ever comment on the survivors of those attacks so are they "forgotten" as well?

    March 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. berman

    You know, a few Americans / British soldiers were just killed by Afghan forces. Will you do a story on their grieving families?

    March 28, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sean

      He'll with those soldiers that were killed and he'll with their families. Why they are in Afghanistan and why their families sent then there. They deserve to be killed

      March 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glh1

      It's rather disingenuous to equate the deaths of members of an occupying force to the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Then you would complain that the media is "anti-military". Remember the controversy over the coffins?

      March 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. oyvavoy

    The War is Over, the War is Lost, Bring Them Home

    March 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      the war was to get OSAMA. it was won mission accomplished. they rest of this is SILLY.... they have no economy but OPIUM and that isnt enough to support anything we build.

      March 29, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. truth1063

    Hey CNN – how about a story about the families of the victims of Major Hassan where he killed 13 and wounded 29 others in the name of Allah...screaming "Allah Akbah" all the way???????????????????

    March 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      There was a lot of coverage when that came out. They also wanted to make a white woman seem like the hero when the real hero was a black man. Either way it is old news while this just happened this month. I love how racists have to dredge up old stories to get their point across.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. oyvavoy

    call it a night

    March 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. maggotfist


    March 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      That's on the front page too. Are you blind? I guess your eyesight is the reason you have to type in all caps

      March 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wesha456

      U got that right!!!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. hadda

    I can't believe all these ignorant comments, but Im not surprised either. no, let's not move on to the next story, let's stick with this one for a while until that murdering pig is sent to death row (sgt Bales) or whatever his name is.
    just another psycho in the military amongst thousands.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Z_2k

      Sorry, Hadda. But there is NO EVIDENCE that Bales killed anyone in those villages. He will not be convicted no matter how bad you would like him to be.

      March 29, 2012 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • rameez

      since when did us needed evidence to pass sentence on people ?and if you need evidence why dont you look at the bodies of victims one more time they weren't made up and also talk to scores of eye witnesses who had there loved one taken from there arms and shot in front of them

      March 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mali

      Thats right!!! Good point!!

      March 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahmd

      Don't put your hands on your eyes, that soldier & his group killed those, they've good reason for their action, US deployed huge numb. of maletia from american with guns, what for guns, for killing $ undermined for the other people's existance

      March 30, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • WakeUp

      Here's someone that makes sense.

      March 30, 2012 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. sbobbys

    Bales needs to be burned. Just remember when you hear the Afghans saying it was more than one person, they are pathological liars. If you haven't been there and worked and lived with them, you don't know, so don't try to say I'm racist or stereotyping.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • kamanakapu

      The white man has a long history of written lie's and an even longer history of spoken lie's, one of his most ancient lie's being the lie that his ancestors did not come from africa but came from another planet. And as for his written lie's the white man's Bible is packed with lie's from cover to cover, one of the earliest being that his god CREATED! (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • casey

      The Ft. Hood incident should be open and close. This incident is sad. War is hell! I'm sure many of us haven't had brain trauma from an ied or seen our friend be mangled by gunfire. People have breaking points. These factors should be taken into account. America needs to be strong again. We are letting the liberal media take things and spin them how they want us to see them. The trayvon Martin case being one.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • mhbrig

      If some man from another country, that had occupied our country,, came in and killed you, your mother/father, or your children...would you be saying this?

      March 29, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • kamanakapu

      I did not comment on that Ft. Hood incident. As for that Trayvon Martin matter: it is my opinion that whenever there is a case in which the antagonists are white vs. black a white jury will invariably find for the whites irrespective of the evidence as can be seen in that Rodney King vs. LAPD matter. I would venture to opine that this is true in 99.99% of all the cases tried in the united states.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • LB Colorado

      Have you walked in this man's shoes, if not, then your casting judgement to be burned for this soldier is absolutely not your call. Walk the mile or two and then come and tell me your thoughts. I am not saying what he did was right, but could actually understand how he got to this point.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • mali

      U right

      March 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth

      you were never there either, QUIET please, hypocrites these days.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shoayb

    Some of the above comments are really sad. For once, we get an insight into the Afghan victims of this war and that seems to offend some people. Have some heart people! What do these poor Afghans have to do with suicide bombings by the Taliban or Major Hasan's shooting spree?? They are all deplorable, but don't try to politicise this tragic event with your cheap shots. NO ONE can argue that Afghan victims and civilians have received decent coverage by the media. Apart from Yalda Hakim's report, we've heard more about the "family man" who killed the Afghans rather than the victims! We truly live in a perverse world where the perpetrator is humanised more than the victims! Thanks CNN for running this story.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Thank you!

      March 28, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      I agree with you whole-heartedly Shoayb. We most definitely needed to know about these people. It's not an "ours" vs. "theirs". Innocent people, regardless their custom, origin, skin color and language are human beings too. It's a story like this that would help people relate with... other people. They have suffered much. Wives, mothers, children, husbands and fathers are gone. When I read the ignorance, negativity and lack of interest from Americans it saddens me. Collectively, in compassion, character and wisdom Americans sink to new lows every day. Even more depressing is they can't be shamed by that fact.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdhuegel1

      Well, the perpetrator is AMERICAN, the majority here are AMERICAN... what'd you expect? I feel very sorry for those that died. Question is – will you feel sorry when you find Bales guilty of standing in front of the bus his fellow troops ran him over with? No way this dude went out, twice, and did this.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
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