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. jackson

    Would it be too much to ask CNN (or any other news outlet) to kindly inquire who was commanding a SECURITY POST WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE TO TWO MASSACRE SITE AND APPARENTLY DID NOTHING WHILE IT HAPPENED. THAT 'COMMANDER' IS NEGLIGENT AND WAS IN DERELICTION OF DUTY (I guess that just don't make much noise anymore, as it is as common among the military and civil servants as journalists).

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

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry at some of these comments. "This is a tragic incident BUT ..." It sounds very similar to closet bigots saying "I'm not a racist BUT..."
    Don't pretend you are touched by this "tragic incident" if you simply couldn't care less. If you cared, you wouldn't be making political points in the same sentence. Basically, what many of you are saying is "why should we care about these Afghans". Heartless, shameless comments – a sign of the inhumane times we live in. Again, THANK YOU CNN for reporting on this story.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • escher7

      You're being a bit judgmental. There are two sides to this. If the guy really had a psych incident and did not know what he was doing, then he has ruined his life as well. He might as well be dead at this point.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoayb

      escher7: I can see your point, but do we ever get that kind of analysis on why a suicide bomber does what he does? No we don't – and for good reason. We should condone the suicide bomber and punish his acts rather than finding excuses. By speaking about Bales' pyschological conidtion, we are almost giving him an excuse for what he did and hence sympathising with his situation. Yes, it must be a tragedy for Bales as well that he did this and that his life is ruined. But where are our priorities? He massacred 17 civilians in front of their loved ones, dragged their bodies into a room and burned them. For me, I feel a lot more sympathy towards the young children that watched their parents being slaughtered than the man who was responsible for it. Call me human.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoayb

      I meant that we should condemn (not condone) the suicide bomber.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Escher7, judgemental?!?!? Now, I don't think the US is perfect but I do believe we have the most developed and fairest (again not perfect) legal system out there. However, as that is a positive it's also a negative as people find ways to "work the system" and exploit the "fairness". The insane claim is a gimme, as the attorney said "he has difficulty remembering anything that happened that night". The case was being built before that attorney was hired. Sure, if you just take into account this guy suddenly went blew away a bunch of people while they slept it might seem plausible but look at all his other actions. No, I'm sorry. This guys knew exactly what he was doing.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kaorikjp

    The U.S.military would try its best to hold on to its "lone gunman" theory, even more adamantly so, if, in fact, there were other soldiers involved in the incident, even if it means making the staff sergeant a scapegoat because it would still be the "least bad option" for the Army and for American interest at large. I wonder if this footage can be used as evidence in the investigation but hope it will be.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Balanced99

      Enough of the left wing liberal double standard crap! What happened was terrible. Now, do the same reporting for the countless slaughters within the country and their soldiers killing ours.

      The same liberal nuts will make any excuse for some 'oppressed' person in the U.S. snapping, but somehow we have to hold the brave men and women of our armed forces to a standard no one else in the world will hold their citizens or military to.

      The answer here is sorry – but shut you hole. You have absolutely no right to complain for what you're making our soldiers and the American tax payers endure.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Oh please "balanced". If the news media reported soldier deaths it would be considered "anti-military" and trying to "weaken our resolve".

      March 28, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    Bring our troops home and just Nuke the dam place. Anyone that survives can rebuild the crappy country.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • hmmmm

      really??? Nuke that DAMN country? No wonder why they hate america so much. Remember man, nobody even asked to put your nose into that DAMN country, you guys did on your own and killed innocent villagers.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Balanced99

      Cherry is obviously an ungrateful liberal!

      March 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Good comment . I agree

      March 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BHS

    It's a war zone... HELLO!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Zanooba

    This just breaks my heart

    March 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Johnbe

    I am so very sorry this happened. please forgive us.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Semper fi

    No crime was dark with no electric lighting blood from victims in evidence....No conviction of murder is going to occur.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • cherry

      how sure you by one they will let bales to keep hos smile and he be rotten in hell soon...

      March 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ofyomamma

    Will a republican president pardon him?? hell yeah!!

    March 28, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Meanwhile, a Guardman gives his life saving a little Afghani girl...but I guess nobody cares. Will the family of the girl offer any praise or words of comfort to the family back in the US? I doubt it. Our countries are too divergent to ever find common ground. We killed Bin Laden and effected severe damage on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. I think it is high time we bring our Armed Forces (and our billions of dollars) home permanently and let the Afghanis sort out their own country, as it is readily apparent that they do not want us there.

    March 28, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • cherry

      agree with you..others have a senseless comments...

      March 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • PCollen

      FYI..the story about the Guardman saving the life of the Afghan girl has been reported extensively . I heard it on CNN and MSNBC this afternoon.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suki

      thank you

      March 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      That story is also on the front page

      March 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wisconsin

    Grieving Afghans now that is a contradicting statement. They kill their women family members and seem to not grieve. The shooter still needs to be prosecuted for murder but do I feel pitty for afghans – NO

    March 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gerald

    Here is an idea... Why not do stories on the many grieving American families that have been murdered by these people? Why not write about the long lasting effects on U.S. families. I want to see the amount of money these muslum governments have paid out to our families...make a great story...if it has EVER happened.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • cherry

      well say thank you to your uncles republicans they were the one who create the war,they are the one who killed the us soldiers...that is republicans specialty...

      March 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glh1

      Why would the Afghan government pay reparations to families of dead US soldiers when 1) the Afghan government is not at war with us, it's an ally, and they didn't do the killing; 2) the Taliban, who did the killing, is not affiliated with the Afghan government; and 3) the deaths of soldiers during war is not a war crime, but the massacre of unarmed civilians is.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sam

    we must secure Central Asian Oil Pipeline and also rare earths.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hmmmm

    Just saw on CNN, Bales challenging Army officials to prove it that he did it, WOW,he not only killed innocent children and saying they cant find evidence to prove it. I hope he burns in hell.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    If some of these comments were coming from an Afghan or Arab perspective, they would be labeled extremist. Is there such a thing as American Extremism? I think we are seeing it.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
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