The Pentagon has disputed a contention by Robert Bales' attorney that his client was "upset" over a friend losing a leg to a roadside bomb, in the days prior to his alleged massacre of 17 people, including women and children, in two villages nearly two miles apart in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has asserted that there was no such bombing. AP has reported that Afghan officials and villagers say that immediately after an IED attack, US soldiers rounded up locals and promised that there would be retaliation, including the killing of children. The AP reported:
"KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Several Afghans near the villages where an American soldier is alleged to have killed 16 civilians say U.S. troops lined them up against a wall after a roadside bombing and told them that they, and even their children, would pay a price for the attack."
The number of dead has been updated to 17 to include the fetus of a
pregnant woman. Also among the dead was a two-year-old. Pentagon
spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby said US officials have no record of such
an IED attack. The NZ Herald reported that on March 22, Capt. Kirby said:
"What I can tell you now is that we don't have any indication that either the attack that's being described occurred, and certainly no evidence that there were any threats of retaliation by US soldiers..."
"In Washington, the Pentagon disputed a claim by villagers that there was a roadside bombing the day before the shooting attack, wounding some soldiers, and the shooting spree was retaliation. A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, told reporters that U.S. officials had no indication that such a bombing happened..."
The Pentagon thus denies the existence of an American soldier recovering from the loss of a leg in Mokhoyan, where the bombing allegedly occurred, and where reporters from different media outlets acknowledge seeing a bomb crater in the road. American casualty reports from the Pentagon, at the time of writing, tally only fatalities, and do not include wounded by province. The name of the alleged wounded man is still unknown.
KKTV Southern Colorado said:
"Staff Sgt. Robert Bales met with his attorney, John Henry Browne, for the first time Monday. The meeting, which Browne described as one of the most emotional of his life, lasted three and a half hours....During the meeting, Browne said Bales confirmed a story first recounted by Bales' family, that a friend's leg had been blown off by a roadside bomb. Bales' clarified that it happened two days prior to the Afghan shootings."
"Browne said another soldier at the small outpost in southern Afghanistan had been gravely wounded the day before the massacre, and that other soldiers were deeply affected by it."
An April 4 McClatchy report,
which sought to downplay emerging eyewitness testimony of multiple
shooters in what resembled a night raid, acknowledged that a bomb crater
had been shown to multiple reporters near one of the villages, Najiban:
"A few journalists were taken the short distance to a nearby house at Najiban, where at least 11 of the victims were shot and stabbed. The mood inside was tense. On the way they passed a massive hole in the road. Villagers and Afghan officials have told reporters that this was the site of a homemade bomb blast that struck a U.S. armored vehicle a day or two prior to the slaughter. They have also said that, prior to the killings, U.S. military personnel had threatened Najiban residents with retaliation for the bomb attack. U.S. officials later said they had no record of either incident."
"One Mokhoyan resident, Ahmad Shah Khan, told The Associated Press that after the bombing, U.S. soldiers and their Afghan army counterparts arrived in his village and made many of the male villagers stand against a wall.
"It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid," Khan said. "Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge."
Neighbors of Khan gave similar accounts to the AP, and several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked told them the same story.
Mohammad Sarwar Usmani, one of several lawmakers who went to the area, said the Afghan National Army had confirmed to him that an explosion occurred near Mokhoyan on March 8.
On March 13, Afghan soldier Abdul Salam showed an AP reporter the site of a blast that made a large crater in the road in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, where the shootings occurred. The soldier said the explosion occurred March 8. Salam said he helped gather men in the village, and that troops spoke to them, but he was not close enough to hear what they said.
Ghulam Rasool, a tribal elder from Panjwai district of Kandahar province, where the shootings occurred, gave an account of the bombing at a March 16 meeting in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai.
"After the incident, they took the wreckage of their destroyed tank and their wounded people from the area," Rasool said. "After that, they came back to the village nearby the explosion site.