Afghans tell of US soldier’s killing rampage
“Sitting on a dirty straw mat on the parched ground of southern Afghanistan, Masooma sank deeper inside a giant black shawl. Hidden from view, her words burst forth as she told her side of what happened to her family sometime before dawn on March 11, 2012.
According to Masooma, an American soldier wearing a helmet equipped with a flashlight burst into her two-room mud home while everyone slept. He killed her husband, Dawood, punched her 7-year-old son and shoved a pistol into the mouth of his baby brother.
“We were asleep. He came in and he was shouting, saying something about Taliban, Taliban, and then he pulled my husband up. I screamed and screamed and said, ‘We are not Taliban, we are not government. We are no one. Please don’t hurt us,’” she said.
The soldier wasn’t listening. He pointed his pistol at Masooma to quiet her and pushed her husband into the living room.
“My husband just looked back at me and said, ‘I will be back.’” Seconds later she heard gunshots, she recalled, her voice cracking as she was momentarily unable to speak. Her husband was dead.
Masooma, who like many Afghans uses only one name, defied tribal traditions that prohibit women from speaking to strangers to talk to The Associated Press while — half a world away — the military prepares to court-martial a U.S. serviceman in the killing of her husband and 15 other Afghan civilians, mainly women and children.
The AP also interviewed other villagers about the case, all of whom are identified by the U.S. Army as witnesses or relatives of witnesses. They included a sister and brother who were wounded and two men who were away during the killings and returned to find wives and children slain. The sister and brother told AP how they tried to run away and hide from a soldier with a gun, only to be shot — and see their neighbors and grandmother killed.” (Read on)
1. Shahara, now 3, sits tucked inside the shawl of her mother, Masooma, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Saturday, April 20, 2013 as Masooma recalls the night she says a U.S. soldier killed her husband and attacked her children in a southern Afghanistan village. Masooma says the soldier grabbed Shahara’s pony tails and shook her head violently after killing her father.
2. A girl plays at her home on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
3. Zardana, 11, sits as she talks in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Monday, April 22, 2013 about a pre-dawn last year when a U.S. soldier burst into her family’s home. Zardana said her visiting cousin saw the soldier chasing them and ran to help, but he was shot and killed. “We couldn’t stop. We just wanted somewhere to hide. I was holding on to my grandmother and we ran to our neighbors.”
4. Naseebullah, fourth from left, plays with his sisters and cousins at the cousins’ home on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
5. Masooma sits with her children at her brother-in-law’s house on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013. In an interview, Masooma recounted the events of pre-dawn March 11, 2012 when a U.S. soldier rampaged through two villages killing 16 people, including her husband. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of Lake Tapps, Washington, is accused of the killings.
6. Mohammed Wazir, left, and his only surviving son, Habib Shahin show pictures or their slain relatives during an interview in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Monday, April 22, 2013.
7. Three girls play hide and seek at their home on the outskirts of Kandahar, Afghanistan on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
[Credit : Anja Niedringhaus/AP]