This file photo shows a Nato soldier in Afghanistan. - File Photo

NAJEEBAN: Najeeban in southern Afghanistan is a ghost village, deserted by the surviving inhabitants after a murderous rampage allegedly carried out by a rogue American soldier earlier this year.

The accused, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, is due in court on Monday for a military hearing at Fort Lewis-McChord in the United States on charges of killing 16 villagers, mostly women and children.

Bales allegedly walked off his base in the southern Kandahar province under cover of darkness on March 11 and killed the villagers in three homes before returning to his base and surrendering.

Before that horrific night at least seven large families lived in Najeeban, a small rural village in Panjwayi district of Kandahar, a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.

Now a deep silence hangs over the area, disturbed only by the sound of buzzing flies and the occasional roar of American helicopters flying over from a nearby base.

Asleep in one of the homes that night was nine-year-old Hikmatullah, who awoke to a living nightmare.

“We were asleep when a person stepped on me,” Hikmatullah, who uses just one name, told AFP. “I opened my eyes and I saw he was a soldier who had a gun.

“First he woke my father and pulled him out from bed. I was really scared and I hid myself under the blanket.

“I heard only one thing from my father, 'Ya Allah have mercy!’ — after that I heard a gunshot. When I peeked out from my blanket I saw my father was lying dead on the ground.”

Nearby was a compound housing Mohammed Wazir's family, where 11 people died as the soldier allegedly walked through the house and killed them one after another.

Wazir was away in Kandahar city that night, but returned to find among the dead his mother Shatarina, his wife Zahra, and six children: daughters Masooma 9, Fareeda, 7, Nabiyah, 5, Palwasha, an infant; and sons Ismatullah, 15, and Faisalullah, 11.

Also killed were Wazir's younger brother, Akhtar Mohammad, his wife Nazia and their son Essa Mohammad, 14.

All the dead were dragged into one room and set on fire, Wazir said.

In the deserted house, trails of blood and bullet holes in flame-blackened walls are still visible.

The 11 members of Wazir's family have been buried next to each other in a row in a small cemetery nearby.

Local people call it the “Shrine of Martyrs”, believing it to be a special place where their prayers will be answered.

“I pray God to give me the same position as these martyrs,” an old woman sitting nearby told an AFP reporter. “The Americans are here to kill us, they killed my sons.” She lost two of her sons in a US airstrike about two months ago, she said.

Her sentiments are echoed by Samiullah, a 29-year-old who said her mother was killed by the soldier in the nearby village of Alkozai, along with three others.

“In the beginning, the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) claimed they had started fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan, but now it seems they are fighting against Afghans,” he said.

“That village, that house, always reminds me of how the American soldier attacked my family and murdered my mother.”

Samiullah has left his village to live in a rented accommodation in Kandahar city, where he said he doesn't have to worry about either soldiers or the Taliban raiding his home at night.

The massacre outraged Afghans, and the parliament demanded a public trial before the Afghan people for the “brutal and inhuman” killings. President Hamid Karzai described the incident as “unforgivable”.

It came amid growing public anger after Americans burned seized copies of the holy Quran at a military base in February and the online airing of a video that allegedly showed US Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban militants.

Bales, who is in his 30s, served three tours of duty in Iraq and was on his first deployment to Afghanistan.

Calls for him to be tried in Afghanistan were rebuffed and he was swiftly flown out of the country. Relatives of the victims and witnesses are expected to testify via video-link from southern Afghanistan, his lawyer has said.

Local officials say cash compensation of some $46,000 was paid to the families for each person killed, but this has not been officially confirmed.

The case could complicate negotiations between Washington and Kabul over the status of any forces remaining in the country after combat troops pull out as scheduled at the end of 2014.

The US-led Nato force still has some 100,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban insurgency, but it has suggested that a smaller force could remain to train, advise and assist Afghan troops.

In Iraq, however, similar plans were dropped after Baghdad refused to grant immunity to US military personnel from prosecution by Iraqi courts.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (13)

Cyrus Howell
November 6, 2012 11:19 pm
You are dreaming.
Prashanth Bharadwaj
November 5, 2012 11:24 am
If at all The Soviet Union remained till date without dissolution none of what happened in Middle East, Africa may not have happened and the course of the world would have been different. more cautious and discreet. Deliberate and intentional NATO millitary interventions would have been avoided or would have happened in a much much smaller scale... Whats actually happening is an expansion of AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC iMPERIALISM in the name of "Saving People from TYRANTS" It looks very similar to what UK did for 4 centuries and the only difference is They ruled more directly by creating colonies and Princely States and by convensing the local population that they have actually come for supporting them to eventually save and relieve them from their cruel rulerand promote freedom. But all they did was for their own commercial interests, Resource and energy needs, Labour and a Market for their products.On the other hand USA, created the "o-called ALLIES" which were similar to colonies, and did rest In the name of Saving ppl from cruel Tyrants then install a pupet govt who just sumits Himself, along with the entire nation and its ppl for to provide Services for USA for its own commercial and power interests.... and also drain the country that they invade indirectly, of rare and region friendly resources like LPG, OIL and PETROLEUM for a much reduced cost leaving the invaded country to struggle for surrvival, They indirectly keep the nation under their control by installing a USA-Friendly dummy Government.... and gain acces to their energies and markets gor their activities. Since they dont openly control and maintain power behind doors, This new type is to be called a "DIPLOMATIC and DEMOCRATIC IMPERIALISM..
Lax
November 6, 2012 4:56 am
Prashant, the Afghan problem started with the then USSR attacking Afghanistan. This was then USA stepped in. With the help of their faithful (ex)ally Pakistan and Saudi, they fathered Taliban (ex mujahideen) to counter Northern Alliance. Despite NA having some of the bravest men like Rashid Dostum and Ahmed Shah Masood who supported USSR, NA lost the game when USSR collapsed. The war ended and then US was not interested in Afghanistan any more. They completely ignored the fact that Taliban was still alive and in their arrogance forgot that chickens come home to roost. They again got involved in Afghanistan in 2001 after the September attacks when they realized the poison called al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Abdullah Hussain
November 6, 2012 4:43 am
186 years of jail terms should be given to this inhuman man. 86 years was given to Dr. Afia for not killing or wounding anyone, The feeble women is only accused of grabbing a rifle from a stout American soldier whereas this American soldier actually killed in cold blood 16 innocent villagers. Lets see.
javed
November 6, 2012 2:55 am
very good concept.
Beg
November 6, 2012 2:32 am
Every hegemony and darkness has its end and so is this going to end and culminate in the same fate as of USSR.the time has arrived
Anony
November 6, 2012 12:07 am
May God have mercy on their souls. This is what the invading armies do, whether in Afghanistan or any other country. 'Saving innocent civilians from the taleban' is just a huge drama of lies. I can already see the verdict for the gunman, a slap on the wrists or maybe a year in confinement, and then he's a free man. In the end, a US citizen's blood is weighed in gold whereas a poor afghan's not even worth a penny.
Cyrus Howell
November 6, 2012 11:48 pm
The US Congress was not interested in Afghanistan any more after the war's end. Congressman Charlie Wilson wanted to fund Afghanistan but president Ronald Reagan and the Congress were not interested. As if the politicians in America all worked together. Hmmm. There was no trade off. No commerce in Afghanistan worth at look. .
Shah
November 5, 2012 8:19 pm
Why quantify an obvious massacre with "allegedly" thrown in all over the place. It does no justice to the facts.
Jay Malik
November 5, 2012 4:15 pm
Well said Prasanth- they have installed corrupt western educated politician's who are only interested in lining their pockets - and have no interest in improving the lives of the common man. The chief justice equally has damaged all the institutions by his myopic and personal vendettas. Jay malik
Sandip
November 5, 2012 1:18 pm
How come we never see similar article on Taliban? There have been isolated documented cases of similar behaviour by Taliban in Afghanistan and even Pakistan.
Cyrus Howell
November 6, 2012 11:18 pm
It seems Pakistan is going to self destruct before that happens.
IndiaWatch
November 5, 2012 2:56 pm
If Pakistanis were half as observant as you they would get rid of this menace rather than consider it 'friend & Allie' and killing their own people on their behalf. Well said. India is in good hands...not so much Pakistan. Sad but true.
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