The U.S. military has officially charged Sgt. Robert Bales with the murder of 17 Afghan civilians, including an unborn baby of one of the victims. With the inclusion of the unborn baby in the dead list, the tally went up to 17, though Afghan officials had reported only 16 deaths initially.
Confusion over the actual death count rose as initially both Afghanistan and American military officials had said the death toll in the massacre was sixteen and released names of 16 victims.
However, two days back the U.S. authorities revised the count to 17, including the unborn baby, which was described as a male of Afghanistan descent.
The Americans are right and one of the females was pregnant, which is why they are saying 17, Kandahar Province Police Chief Brig. Gen. Abdul Razak said, according to a New York Times report. This explains the difference in the death count given by Afghan and American military officials.
The decision was in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and United States Federal Law which states that the death of an unborn baby could be considered as a murder even if the killer was not aware of the victim's pregnancy. Yet the law says that the killer of a fetus cannot be penalized with death, according to the New York Times report.
The mass killings by the Sergeant on March 11 had worsened sour relation between Afghanistan and the U.S. The latest reports throw light on the sequence of the killings. According to the American investigators Sgt. Bales had carried out the massacre in two rounds.
He went out of his base to the village and randomly shot at sleeping civilians and returned to his camp before slipping out again for another round of firing, Associated Press reported.
The details of the real motive and how Bales carried out the murders are not yet released by the investigators.
Meanwhile Karilyn Bales, wife of Sgt Bales, broke her silence on the issue and said that it is unbelievable that her husband killed 17 Afghan civilians. In an exclusive interview for Today, Bales defended her husband and said he loves children, and that he would not kill them.
He loves children; he's like a big kid himself. I have no idea what happened, but he would not ... he loves children, and he would not do that, she told Today.
The U.S. Government has paid comparatively high compensation to the shooting victims -- both dead and injured. According to the U.S. officials, the government has paid about $50,000 to the dead and $11,000 to the injured. The compensation is huge when compared to similar compensations paid earlier for civilian deaths in Afghanistan, which were in the range of $3000-$4000, according to an NDTV report.