Afghans recall massacre horror ahead of soldier's trial

(CBS News) KANDAHAR CITY, Afghanistan - At a military court hearing in Washington state Thursday, an army DNA expert testified that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales had the blood of at least four people on his clothes and guns when he surrendered.

Bales is accused of murdering 16 civilians in Afghanistan. Most of the victims were women and children.

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On Friday, survivors of the massacre will testify by video from Afghanistan. Many of the survivor stories have not been widely publicized, which is why CBS News sent an Afghan journalist to interviewe some of them over there. It was too dangerous for Westerners to travel to their village, deep in Taliban territory.

At night, a survivor of the massacre named Rafiullah told CBS News, the nightmares return.

"I see everything clearly," he said in Arabic, "Over and over."

The 15-year-old is one of the few eyewitnesses to survive the massacre.

Rafiullah said he was at home asleep on March 11th when a man broke down the door.

"He pushed me against the wall, and put the pistol to my sister's head," he said. "We all started shouting: 'Don't kill her.'"

When the shooting started, Rafiullah ran to another room.

"We heard gunshots," he said. "My uncle, my little cousin and my grandmother were killed. I was told to put my hands on the wall, and then he shot my sister in the head.

Rafiullah was wounded in both thighs. He told us the shooting lasted half an hour. When we asked how many gunmen he had seen that night, Rafiullah answered "One."

"He wore an American uniform," he said. "He had a gun but no helmet. He shot us with a pistol."

Nabaryan said a gunman killed his brother and his 6-month-old nephew.
Nabaryan said a gunman killed his brother and his 6-month-old nephew.
CBS News
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Of the 16 Afghans killed in the village that night, nine were children. Many of the bodies were burned.

Another villager, Nabaryan, told us his brother and his six month old nephew had been killed. His brother's wife survived -- and he said she'd seen more than one gunman.

"She told me they had lights on their heads," he said in Arabic. "They were searching the house, and they told her to be quiet or they'd kill her, too."

The prosecution's argument is that this was an act committed by one man, Staff Sgt. Bales. But some of these witnesses said from the very beginning they saw more than one American soldier. The defense will try to take advantage of this to try to save Bales from the death penalty.

  • Kelly Cobiella

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