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. horror reaction

    How come bales does not remember what happened that night but walks a mile back to the camp in dark? hmm he has convenient memory . Give him what he really deserves: the noose...

    March 28, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NewYorker

    such ignorant disgusting people you all are! May god forgive the innocent lives taken away by this shameless heartless american punishment his family friends and neighbors should all be shot to death too while hes alive watching it ..surly his karma will come back to bite him in his filthyass.. god will take care of this one.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. crusader12

    C'mon North Korea, give these ignorant yanks a dose of reality and land that missile on the launch pad right on LA!

    March 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Greek American

    I was watching AfghanistanFoxAlJazeera military news from the area and they are reporting that soldiers witnessed some of the infants on top of Bales punching him in the face and slamming his head to the ground. I'm sure that all you GOP hick war-monger murderers saw the same story right?

    March 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. harold

    i am

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

      YOU are fooled by the US government who are playing you as dummies, just to fulfil their tagets in the world. They blew their own trade building and they used it as a tool to go to afghanstan and later on to iraq. many american when they came back from iraq or afghanstan they knew these facts. the are manuplating every one even their own citizenz. what a shame>>>>>>>>>the biggest terrorist in the world" US Army"

      March 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Terri

    You call it a massacre when a member of the Military is involved and you DONT report on all the good they do HERE in Afghanistan AND you barley give it coverage when the taliban blow up whole markets of women and childres. Who's side ARE you on??

    March 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @terri: we expect that from the taliban – it's part of the reason we are there. we expect americans to act a bit more civilized..

      March 28, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry L

      We are American Soldiers and do not slaughter civilians. Our civilian leaders have sent us forward too many times and we will have people who crack under the pressure. We are humans who are controlled by lesser beings – politicians with financial and political motives. Still, we cannot and will not allow these breeches in discipline to destroy our focus and dishonor those who endured – most who ultimately perform honorably and with considerable personal sacrifice.

      March 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. odinsgranny88

    Ironically not one of those Afghan villagers could describe the mass murder of mainly 3,000 westerners on September 9th 2001, the event that inspired the USA t cleanse out the village dwelllers acting as islamic terrorists in paki and Afghanistan

    March 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      I'm sure they knew about 9-11. If your own family, friends, or townspeople were murdered, what would you care about some event that happened on the other side of the planet? Get real

      March 29, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • laila

      go tell that to the Saudis ...they are the ones who did it not afghans....afghans have been the victims throughout all this mess first by Russian now USA

      March 29, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      its September 11th not 9th and your point makes no sense

      March 29, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      Those towers were brought down with explosives planted by the CIA. Only an uneducated idiot would believe that jet fuel (kerosine) could produce the temps needed to liquify steel and actually fuse the components together. In addition buildings collapsing on their own do not fall straight down preceded immediately by explosions. Even the firemen that made it out said that each floor was exploding as the building went down. That was before they were debriefed by the government, and then they changed their story. Americans are such suckers; they will believe anything the government tells them and that's why it is so east to start one war after another. The 1% have been putting billions in the bank while your sons and daughters go off and fight their wars. It's really a very old game.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @odinsgranny: that's because they didn't do it, and the afghanis in rural areas, even many in the towns and small cities don't read papers or watch the news. many had no idea why suddenly there were armed americans running around.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. david hurst

    It is odd that all Afghan guards say they only dealt with one man, yet the witnesses say there were more. There is a consistancy in what the Afghani military say, that is in complete contrast to the reporters insinuations of more than one man, despite what witnesses say. One man left, one came back. One man left again, one came back. Every day, the story will get bigger, yet this consistancy by antagonistic yet somehow objective observers is ignored.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • sinbad

      Maybe he had nothing to do with the crime and was doing other stuff. The army will make sure nobody ever knows the truth.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jessy the Gnostic

    Judging from the comments around here and around all other CNN articles, the people posting the comments seem to ignore the once popular saying: It's best to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Or I could borrow a quote from the Gospel of Thomas: (14) Yeshua says to them, ...What goes into your mouth will not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth will defile you.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • kamanakapu

      Your saying the commentators should remain silent? What, then, is this forum for? In my opinion, its better to offer a comment and be proven wrong than to say nothing and be right.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • david hurst

      yep, you have removed all doubt.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. AJ

    What anti-american CNN crap.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Great Israel


    March 28, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • kamanakapu

      The number of patriotic americans that support Sgt. Bales number in the millions.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. Larry L


    What anti-american CNN crap.
    No – this is an example of the true nature of war and should be reported to the public. The American people ostensibly support the concept of endless war and should be exposed to ruthless environment. Don't roll your eyes and spout some sound bite from a right-pwing chickenhawk. I did 34 years. CNN is reporting what the rest of the World is hearing – anything less would be Fox News. Get over it.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve

    Why do Americans attempt to justify or explain away the innocent killing of children by US soldiers, but cry for blood when terrorists kill our children? Maybe the terrorists on 9/11 were suffering depression that caused them to kill just like Bales. I'm sure they had their own excuses for what they did. You are being just like the terrorists by supporting this solider. Bales is a child killer, not a hero. I'm an american and I'm a war vet.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Steve, thank you for your service. So often, answering the call is a thankless business, but you know there are those of us, however silent, who know the truth and respect your noble sacrifice.

      March 29, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rob

    @Saif – so we paid Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda to take credit for 9-11 so we could hunt down and kill them all? 9-11 conspiracy theorists are a joke. Get a life.

    March 28, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Greek American

    Good and important point you made. I totally agree.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
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