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. Wowsers

    I cannot believe all these heartless comments on this story! Yes, it is sad that so many service members have been killed but that's a completely different story. They volunteered to join the military; military members go to fight in wars; they assume those risks when they sign their names, again willingly!
    This story is about the murders of innocent civilians, including children!!! These were families sleeping in their homes at night when they were captured, killed, and burned in front of surviving family members (children watching their parents being killed)!

    March 28, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tdog

    burhan the american soldier deserves to go free he did a justice to the american people because now their will be 17 less people to kill over there 17 less people to maybe come over here and bomb or fly a plane into another building also we should remove our troops i agree then when we do nuke them all and let the surviors rebuild the country(hopefully their is no surviors)

    March 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rajesh Chandra

      So, Tdog you want to nuke them without thinking what will happen to the region around it? India, which is the closest ally of the US is also in that region. Once there is an escalation, a war will break out between India and Pakistan. But again you don't care do you. You only want America to be secure thinking that it is situated on some other planet. Always think before coming to a conclusion. And to those who are wondering why I am spending time convincing Tdag, well, in all a probability he is a US citizen with a vote to his name and the politician he elects to office may have a reflection of his views.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alfredo

    The US and NATO need to leave Afghanistan. Osama Bin Laden is dead. The US has more to lose than to gain at this point. If they're worried about the Taliban, use drones....

    March 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jay

    Leave Afghanistan now !

    March 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lola

      yep, I would bomb them instead.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. randomwritingelle

    Note that all these interviews were through the afghans. Also this video tries to raise the death count to 27

    March 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |




    March 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      I would assume that no one from those particular areas or others for that matter would not trust a word you say either.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rossario

      Extremely Ignorant

      March 28, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • panopticon

      Well then, what people are trustworthy? I assume the group of folks to which you belong?

      March 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Anyone else see this as a stark comparison to what REAL treason looks like.. Manning vs Bale, I know who i want to see dead. I know whos actions lead to death and should end that way too

      March 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoayb

      Your ignorance is incredible. I have immense pity for you.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • das272

      Agree with you there. They are taught to lie for the sake of Islam.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    What were the villagers wearing? I need to know so that I can make a statement.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @jeff: obviously, they were wearing hoodies 😉

      March 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andy

    CNN hardly they left it to others to cover they story and just reprinted it...... lazy journalism indeed.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shoayb

      It was an exclusive story broken by the Autralian journalist. It's an important issue and that is backed up by the 12 pages of comments we've seen on this page so far. So, CNN was more than justified in running it.

      March 30, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. RamanV

    "american soldier deserves to go free he did a justice to the american people because now their will be 17 less people to kill over there"

    Just wait Until the American Military will do justice to this soldier....I Bet you will be the first person to rejoice over.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. CNN Repert

    I wouldn't trust anything they say.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Burkas

    Don't they look like the costumes that Bee Keepers wear?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. horror reaction

    This is premeditated murder by bales becos his friends leg was blown. He should be tortured and hanged and perhaps cut into pieces because he killed kids by shooting them in their mouths...Monster he is

    March 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Aires

    Americans have no business of being there. You already killed enough in Iraq and destroyed a country for no reason!!! Were are the weapons of Mass Destruction Jerk's?

    Saudi's attacked your country! 19 of them Oh, I forgot, you need they oil...

    March 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmm

      well said. Our actions over seas do nothing but makes corporations (that pay little or no taxes) richer and hatch more terrorists. Good Ole western strategy, treat the problem/symptoms rather than attacking the root cause.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RCDC

    Both side should be heard and investigated, beginning on what and why it started. Afgan army in most cases shoot at the american troops on a number of times and may have killed american soldiers in the past before this event happens. Why is this not investigated?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • sinbad

      Most times the Afghan soldiers are shot without a trial. If they had shot Bale at the time this would have gone away. You probably could just fly him back to Afghanistan and give him to the Taliban.

      March 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. someone

    why does their costume matter? you should look at them as humans if you cant look at them with respect. 16 people were killed for no reason... they are humans not animals... what if it happened in the west?

    March 28, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
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