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First Western Journalist to Speak With Survivors Of The Panjwai Massacre

Posted by The Agonist on March 29th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

Tremendous reporting from Yalda Hakim of Australia’s SBS network, the first Western journalist to reach the two Afghan villages where Sgt Robert Bales is alleged to have been the sole killer of 16 innocents. (H/t Matt Aikins)

When Hakim reaches the village of Alkozai, a place she’s told at first is unreachable because its now laced with Taliban mines, she finds it empty – the people gone. She’s told they’ve fled to Kabul and elsewhere. It took the personal intervention of President Karzai before the US military would let her talk to the survivors being treated at a US military base’s hospital. One child shot in the massacre tells Hakim that, while there was one shooter in her house, there were other US soldiers outside in the yard holdinglights. Yet she also spoke to the Afghan soldiers who saw a single American soldier enter the base after the time of the murders in Alkozai and then leave again an hour later – presumably to head for more killing in the village of Najiban. One of them told her he got his Afghan duty officer to notify the Americans about the lone soldier walking into the base at 1.30am, the other that the same thing happened when the lone soldier left at 2.30am. Karzai’s investigator, General Karimi, wonders aloud how the Americans on the base could therefore have been unaware of something terrible going on that night. General Karimi also explicitly says that, according to villagers testimony, Bales was the soldier who had threatened them with revenge for the injury of his friend in an IED explosion a few days before. Hakim also interviewed one woman who had her child die in her arms, and who speaks of “they” when talking of those involved in her boy’s murder.

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