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. kamanakapu

    As I've said at the outset and now say it again the army ripped Sgt. Bales out of afghanistan and flew him to the U.S. to unlawfully obstruct and prevent the afghan authorities from conducting a thorough investigation
    vis-a-vis the cowardly slaughter of the afghan villagers.

    I predicted at the outset and reiterate that analysis here that the army had no intention of allowing the successful prosecution of Sgt. Bales; that Sgt. Bales would never be successfully prosecuted for the massacre of those villagers.

    March 29, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. High Hopes

    I feel bad for the families who were attacked and killed so viciously. I feel horrible for the children who lost there lives. And I feel,.especially, bad for the scars and blemishes this one man has placed in the hearts and souls of the hundreds of thousands of people who serve this country in an honorable, brave and gracious way. I can only hope that one man's dreadful acts don't break the spirit of all the rest.


    March 29, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  3. catherine

    This is what happens when we do war.... Humanity psycologically was not meant to do war. It only causes more problems at home and around the world.... Promote peace end war!

    March 29, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. ciaopaparazzi

    What it means is the News Media is more interested in spreading Taliban propaganda than the truth. They are the ones who need to be shot.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  5. Lino Patruno

    I just saw the report on TV.
    I'm ashamed for the way the little child was asked about the killing of his parents.
    What about ethic?
    Shame on you.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Breann Smith

      This is very sad and our world is very corrupt. There is definitely good in this world, but a lot of bad and the media DEFINITELY puts the focus on the bad. God be with all of these, women and especially the children as well as with this man or men who made the decision to take these precious lives. How tragic and horrific that killing has to exist. When are we as a human race going to understand the simple fact, that we are all made differently for a reason, but dang it we are ALL the same... human, mammal, person, whatever you call it, we're all made to love and be loved and in our world today it seems like the only humans that truly know and live by this are children. It comes down to two simple words-love and respect. This seems like such a simple life change we ALL as a human race need to make.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
    • bush

      kudos to the reporter. there is nothing wrong with asking the question. people were massacred in this child's village by an american soldier. these children are witness and need to be heard! American people should be ashamed of what this solider did instead of defending him!

      March 29, 2012 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Hadenuffyet

    Well , let's posit yet another theory. Suppose an afghan guard or guards were actually taliban sympathizers. Suppose further that they were able to communicate with a taliban cell in the general area. And finally, suppose the attack was actually taliban masquerading as US soldier(s) , queued by the guard(s) that gave a heads up that one of ours had left base.
    Framed ??? I don't know , but it's as plausible as just about any other scenario . Just a thought...

    March 29, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Why? Because there is good and then there is evil. And American soldiers are good so by default what? Take it on the nose. Actually its the american invasion that was the ultimate evil

      March 29, 2012 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Toldo

      "Suppose an afghan guard or guards were actually taliban sympathizers. Suppose further that they were able to communicate with a taliban cell in the general area"

      Suppose you're a racist bigot of European origin?

      March 29, 2012 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
    • boobo

      that was bales intention to make it look like taliban did it

      March 29, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      There is such a thing like presumption of innocence. It means only the court can state the guy guilty, and only after the full and comprehensive investigation. Of course, it's just theory. The human's nature already started working, as we can see from all those posts.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |


      March 29, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. David

    Nothing against the Australian reporter, but she should avoid visiting Russian-speaking countries (Afganistan is another story) as her first name (Yalda) is vulgar synonym to a male part. Just my 2 cents.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      It's just Hebrew name, is it not?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Sully

    Stupid Media selling stories
    just saying

    March 29, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brian Ritchey

    This article say basically – nothing.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kim

    Oh I can't even put into words how very saddened I was (and still am) for the victims (especially the children) and their surviving family. Having a three-year-old, I could not imagine losing her. Those poor children, I wish I could tell all of these people how sorry I am. Many of us Americans are very, very ashamed and saddened by what Sgt. Bales did and I myself took it very personally as these are children just like my own. They all had a favorite toy, a favorite game they liked to play, a favorite snack. They all had their own little laugh and smile and their own unique personality. They were each special. Things like this that happen are not something to laugh at or incite hatred toward the victims over and I find it disgusting and reprehensible not only as an American, but as a mother and a human being that anyone on this board is using this tragedy as a joke or an opportunity to speak badly of the victims or their families. Those of you who are, you should be ashamed of yourselves. These were lives equal to all of ours' regardless of nationality, race or religion.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
    • A

      I feel SSgt. Bales did the right thing and hats off to him. F all these afghan pigs, kill them all.

      March 29, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Lino Patruno, Thank you for your point, I agree.

    March 29, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sully

    iIlove the fact we sell fear, violence, anything that will attract attention
    the real downfall of our country will be the chase of the almighty buck, by the media

    March 29, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sully

    Ofcourse we are sad for children, come on people

    March 29, 2012 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. Sully

    United States Marine Here and I take offense to the one sided stories our, 'our' media potrays

    March 29, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sully

    goodnight all

    take this story and think hard. I pray for the victims over seas. When the real victims are here at home, watching and listening to this nonsense. Our boys die dailey but that won't sell a story or paper. CNN go take a leap
    just saying

    March 29, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
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