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. Glh1

    I realize the military is still holding to the "it was just one guy" line, but I believe the little girl who stoically described what happened, in a matter of fact manner with no drama, and she said there were other men outside with lights.

    And to that little girl, and the others who were wounded or lost loved ones, I am so very sorry...

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

      The biggest thing i took from this was their comments on foreign forces. They said, they were more afraid of them then the taliban. Its sad to say that this struggle is now lost after this.. the Afghans will never trust the west. nor should they from their side.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • sinbad

      I agree, the description of the lights outside the house etc. Bale probably walked away from the slaughter, so they pinned it on him.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. newshead12

    I wish they were this angry over the Taliban.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      A lot of people are angry over the Taliban. And they were Reagan's best friends in the 1980's when they were fighting communism.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kip (Portland,Oregon)

    It is very sad that innocent civilians especially young children were killed. It is especially sad if it was at the hands of a US soldier who suffered traumatic brain damge and trauma during his previous "three combat deployments" to Iraq. In the last year we have had many European ISAF trainers, US Army officers and in one incident seven US Air Force officer trainers murdered by their Afghan military counterparts, whom the US and European military trainers are trying to help to become a more professional, less corrupt and more competent military. Good luck with that effort! Our own President Obama is always quick to "apologize" for the unfortunate killing of any Afghans, yet I have yet to see the very corrupt President Karzai personally apologize to the families of our troops or the Europeans troops who have been murdered by Afghan police and military personnel. The bottom line is lets qut wasting $2 Billion a week on this miserable third world country and get our people out of there. My two sons and my daughter in law now have six combat deployments among them in Iraq and Afghanistan (all of them are field grade Army officers) and none of them see any point in our endless deployments after 10 years, especially to Afghanistan where we are clearly now attempting nation-building. And for what? If we build up a Afghan military of 300,000 plus we could be there forever as this miserable country clearly cannot afford to sustain a professional military and it will quickly revert to blood feuds, tribal warfare and regional warlords and their militias as soon as we leave. Once the Russians were driven out and we left the various warlords and their militias tribes vying for power started shooting their Scud missiles into Kabul destroying their own capital. If the people of Afghansitan do not mind the Taliban shotting their women in the head in the soccer stadium for not wearing a head scarf in public, not letting girls get edcuated, getting married at age 8, sodomizing everythign that moves and destroying their entire culture and murdering people under Sharia law should we really care? Afghanistan is a people, place and culture we in the West will never understand and not the British a long time ago, the Russians who killed over a million Afghans to little effect or us will ever make any real difference in how Afghanistan is ruled.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • cherry

      you are talking about the war thats why lot of militaries died both afgans n us soldiers,and say thank you to bush and your butchers uncles republicans because they easily engaged to wars,including Iraq,look what happen to the US economy.and also hope n pray that no one will go inside your house to spray bullets while you and your family are sleeping,because you are so insensitive to what happen to these innocent civilians,children and women who were killed by our hero with brain injury as an excused,because if he has brain injury he cant function normally,but still he manage to burned these people coherently...

      March 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tyler

    Oh let me guess. They said it was a wonderful eye opening experience. NOT! Of course it was bad. Really do we need to understand why or how. Basically every one wants to either kill the guy who did it or praise him for ridding the world of rag heads all together. Maybe we as human's don't deserve this planet and should become extinct.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. b

    is this fifth comment

    March 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ma & pa

    Also, in the politics of wars of all kinds, sometimes there are third party instigators and guards in league with them, who voice false reports. Noone can begin to sort out and judge this until everyone involved speaks the complete truth they know about this alleged occurrence.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tanmay

    1. see wat wars does to people n why they say "an eye for an eye' will make the entire world blind' !!'.
    2. its important that people are made to believe that they are strong enough to FORGIVE.
    3. No one is more superior than other, just for being from a richer country
    4. one can not and should not generalize people based on the country or religion, there are good n bad people everywhere (http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/28/us/rhode-island-guard-death/index.html?hpt=hp_c3)
    5. Hat off to Yalda Hakim n her team to put this story to the people.
    6. "i dont care" or "let move on" or similar such remarks is a problem of our 'cool' (self-proclaimed) generation that think everything is just ok to do or say.. its time that we CARE about things around us

    March 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdhuegel1

      The human race is a plague. If you think humans can live together in harmony you are nuts. We strive for power. Hunger for money. Live to kill. Humans will kill humans until the rate at which death is faster than birth is upon us. Open your eyes.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Buzzer

      Any reason you're still around posting such a bold statement? Put your money where your MOUTH is...

      March 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • whta

      You can go first.

      March 29, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LakDriver

      Gee, I sure am glad we forgave the 9/11 attackers.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      the iraqis? after the bush catastrophe no one knows who they were anymore

      March 29, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • justice

      This poor small child victims did not have nothing to do with 9/11. What are u talking about?

      April 6, 2012 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
    • WakeUp

      Very well said Tanmay

      March 30, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Leif Truitt

    We have lost our minds

    March 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    Very unfortunate that this happened, especially since what appears to be innocent civilians were involved. But if "military justice" in this case echoes the "justice" of the Fort Hood Shootings, this case will drag out in court for years. Major Hassan killed 13 and wounded 29 and he is still alive and well in military custody years after the shootings. This will not be over any time soon.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SeeNN SuXs

    It is really terrible that this happened. My heart goes out to those killed and the soldier's family that has to endure this. But CNN your not helping in the least. Do another piece on women's rights. you know the one where they get to kill their unborn children in the name of "choice". Tell me why those children s death mean nothing and yet these do?

    March 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Michelle

    Then why bother to comment?

    March 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nondem

    I think we should send unarmed UN peace forces, lawyers, politicians and holly fathers and recall all solders back home from Afghanistan as soon as we can. it will help to fix U.S.A..

    March 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marlee

    Bring the soldiers back home. Dr. Ron Paul 2012!

    March 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • escher7

      Ron is a little extreme, (the U.S. has international obligations and intervention is often in the country's interest), but he has the right idea. If he would just moderate a little he might get elected.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Wesha456

    What this soldier allegedly did is reprehensible. I wish they could get this angry about the Taliban, cutting off their wife's noses and ears, mother-in-law and husband beating up their wives, the community standing with their judgments and stoning their wives, daughters, and sisters, throwing acid on their wives, pedophiles marrying little girls. Just saying.........................

    March 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. escher7

    The guy cracked. If the story is true, he belongs in a psych ward, not jail. However they will nail him to the cross either way to appease the Afghans. It's tragic and horrible for the families but it is interesting how if a U.S. helicopter wipes out 20 people (including kids in a car) it is some how justified. But if a soldier goes off the deep end it is a tragedy. War sucks and innocents die.

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