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. Hunter

    Why not do stories about American families that have been murdered by these people, you ask? Because there aren't any! If a person joins the US military and goes over there to war and dies as a result, that is not the same as someone coming in killing men, women and children at random for no good reason! If you join the military, you have to expect it to affect you and your family, both positively and negatively. If you don't like it, don't join.

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

    After reading the headlines about the US soldier who shot up Afghanistan civilians, I couldn’t help noticing an irony. There is all this clamor to try this guy quickly and execute him, never mind his having suffered a traumatic brain injury.

    Yet this Major Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood while screaming Allah akbar, still hasn’t stood trial, and they are still debating whether he was insane, even with the clear evidence regarding his motive: slay as many infidels as possible. So we have a guy in a war zone who cracks, and he must be executed immediately.

    But this Muslim psychiatrist who was stateside in a nice safe office all day murders 13, wounds 29 of our own guys, and they try to argue the poor lad suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome, from listening to real soldiers who had actual battle experience. Two and a half years later, they still haven’t tried him.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Medical Student

    Although the actions are reprehensible my comment is not in regard to particular transgressions that took place. My concern is with the abhorrent methods practiced by the Journalist who was persistent in probing the children about what happened. Literature and Evidence Based Medicine both confirm that I Debriefing ANYone who was exposed to or lived through a traumatic event in a time frame centered around that event risks precipitating a poor mental health prognosis over the patients lifetime and subsequent co-morbidities. The physicians who were in charge of managing the childrens' cases actually did the right thing by preventing the Journalist from probing. I hope whoever this reporter is receives this information and the possible harm she may have posed to those children who were affected. The sake of a Juicy Story never justifies harming those you are reporting on.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnson

      Medical Student needs a refresher course in English Composition. This comment is horribly written.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @johnson: no doubt. it always amazes me when the pharmacy can read the prescription..

      March 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Medical Student

      @ Johnson
      @ leeintulsa

      Thank you for your concern about my English. As it is my 3rd language, I haven't quite mastered the grammar yet. I'll try my best next time.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. larper2

    We would not have been there except for the "9/11/2001" terrorist act. If the Afghan government dealt with the terrorist instead of harboring them these children would never died and neither would we have lost our own least we forget.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • reason

      oh please – then you might as well say if we hadnt gone into Kuait and been in teh first Gulf war – none of this would have happened – I dont know if you noticed but Bin Laden listed THAT event as one of his reasons for attacking us.

      How far back you wanna go smart guy?

      March 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • prayn4peace

      "Lest we forget"? You seem to have forgotten..... though I don't think most Americans or the rest of the world, has. Afghanistan had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and neither did anyone claim that it did. The people in the planes on 9/11 were primarily from our "allied" countries – there were NONE on those planes from Iraq or Afghanistan.

      You may have forgotten that, but I don't think the world has. We invaded Iraq based on lies told to us by our government; the Afghani people, like the Iraqi people, like the Pakistani and Yemeni people who we are also killing, did absolutely nothing to us.

      And their lives are just as valuable as our own. Their children are just as loved as our own.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • itstrue

      If the US Army had dealt with this psycho the way they should have this would never have happened. By your logic, Afghans now have a duty to carry out the same thing you did to them, a vengeance, "lest they forget."

      March 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      What Afghani terrorists? Most of the 9-11 bombers were from Saudi Arabia and they are our BFFs forever. A few were from Egypt. Osama Bin Laden, who is already dead, was found in Pakistan. They are also our BFFs. As far as the Taliban they were also our BFFs during communism.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • W.

      @prayn4peace: he tried to kill my daddy

      March 28, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John K

    IIn case you have forgotten, we have paid out $846,000 to each and every family member who was affiliated with those who were killed in this incident. Notice how we pay our way out of every mess this country gets itself into again and again by our brilliant politicians. Jee, I feel much better knowing that we have such capable and smart people in Washington making such brilliant foreign decisions while our own backyard is such a MESS!

    March 28, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      The total cash outlay was $850K to families of the 17 victims. Aprox $50K per.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Yes,and how much have the Saudis paid to the U.S.victims of 911?...Most of the 911 hijackers were Saudi.When will they pay up,either in dollars or oil?

      March 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • sinbad

      I'm sure that makes the little girl who had her mother and father murdered in front of her feel much better. You seem to think money can fix anything.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @portland tony: it *is* just as easy to get these things right, isn't it

      March 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JS INC

    Interesting how many times the survivors said, "THEY". Wonder who's telling the truth...

    March 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JoeDidley

    Why is this man being charged so fast and the office that killed all those people at Fort Hood is not being charged. He is being given every benefit of a doubt while the other is being crucified in the press world wide. No one seems to care if he was sick or if he snapped. I just don't understand. My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones and also to the soldier that was suppose to have killed these people. We need to be fair. Why.... Someone tell me why... I thought that America was better than this. We apologize for killing them and they kill our people and we say it is just war. I don't understand... Someone please tell me why.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. revere-ma-781

    Let Afghan heathens deal with each other evac all combat troops and military advisers! we gain nothing from being in that country at all! and what insurgents we find are not fight us unit to unit its all ieds and road side bombs immediate withdrawal and Beef up our boarders here so to prevent any attacks on our own soil!;

    March 28, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JoeDidley

    Why is this man being charged so fast and the officer that killed all those people at Fort Hood is not being charged. He is being given every benefit of a doubt while the other is being crucified in the press world wide. No one seems to care if he was sick or if he snapped. I just don't understand. My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones and also to the soldier that was suppose to have killed these people. We need to be fair. Why.... Someone tell me why... I thought that America was better than this. We apologize for killing them and they kill our people and we say it is just war. I don't understand... Someone please tell me why.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. constantine76

    Hunter, if you had the courage to run that mouth of yours like that in front of a live audience, I would certainly fear for your safety. Actually, I wouldn't. I would love to see what people would have to say about your lack of sympathy for our soldiers. It's your type of cowardess that sickens me and all others like me who have served and protected snot nosed liberals like you.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • revere-ma-781

      very true

      March 28, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Recaredo

    The US is corrupting their young people sending them to fight and kill people for the benefit of their richest people.
    The young die or kill, and are deformed for life, and the ric continue to amass fortunes and think where next they will send their youth to die to make teh richer.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. leeintulsa

    @dan and others: why do people talk about hassan and ft hood? it's apples and oranges.

    then they say something along the lines of hassan's case is ongoing, he's served years in military custody, yada yada yada.

    do you think military custody is some sort of vacation spa? i guess you think the case is unresolved until the government 'kills him back'?

    why have we spent millions in iraq (twice) and afghanistan, and beat the drums of war on syria and iran? (or at least, the published reason when lies fell away)

    because governments aren't supposed to kill their own people.

    having your freedom and rights st ri pp ed away is the worst punishment there is. why do people still think we need to show mercy on the most criminal of the criminal by letting them off easy? "you don't have to spend the rest of your life in prison among r a pi5ts and murderers with nothing to lose – we're gonna put you *out* of your misery. we know it won't bring anybody back and will be more expensive, but it makes us feel good."

    hassan is incarcerated. this guy in leavenworth is incarcerated. if they never get out, justice served.

    if you just want him dead, why didn't we leave him in afghanistan? sometimes it works out well that the wheels of justice turn slowly. most innocents have time to get out of the way.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      All good points.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    There is no such thing as a nice, clean war. Most of us would not be able to comprehend what its like in a war.
    Just get out of that country. What on earth are we doing there anyway?

    March 28, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. angel611

    Sorry folks, I don't believe ANYTHING and Afghan says, nothing.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      That's cute. And I don't believe you. Either way, they don't have to say anything. The dead bodies speak for themselves.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Well then it's a good thing you're not in any position of importance that requires a fair mind or good decision making processes.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoayb

      That is because you are a bigot 🙂

      March 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BoomBoom

    Love how this is not called terrorism, as rather an isolated case by a man with a mental issue. Wouldn't want the average american to think terrorism can also be an act performed by Americans. God forbid our perception around the world loses it's ground. Who are we kidding, we are the terrorists of this present world, expect with our playstation 3's netflix tv re-runs and a never ending amount of junk food it's very hard to take a step back and realize the facts

    March 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      While there's no doubt these people were terrorized this is not terrorism. Please read the definition. The crime here, no less heinous, manifested from an entirely different motive. A stroke and a heart attack can both lead to death that doesn't mean you use them interchangably. They need to be identified properly to receive the correct treatment. Same goes with this situation only here it is punishment, not treatment.

      March 28, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
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