Robert Bales’ wife: ‘Profoundly sad’ over Afghan killings; ‘I too want to know what happened’

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

Karilyn Bales, the wife of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the American soldier suspected of carrying out the March 11 shooting rampage that killed 16 Afghan civilians, issued a statement Monday night expressing profound sadness over the tragedy, but said she still doesn't know what happened that night.

"What happened on the night of March 11 in Kandahar Province was a terrible and heartbreaking tragedy," Karilyn Bales, 38, said in a written statement Monday released through a spokesman, the Seattle Times reported.

She and her family "are all profoundly sad," the statement said, and extended condolences "to all the people of the Panjawai District" whose loved ones perished.

But they have little information on what transpired, she said, adding that "what has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire."

"I too want to know what happened," she said. "I want to know how this could be."

Residents of the Panjwai district village have told the Associated Press they believe the March 11 killings were "retaliation for a roadside bomb attack on U.S. forces in the same area a few days earlier," the AP reported Tuesday. "In accounts to The Associated Press and to Afghan government officials, the residents allege that U.S. troops lined up men from the village of Mokhoyan against a wall after the bombing on either March 7 or 8, and told them they would pay a price for the attack."

Staff Sgt. Bales' Seattle attorney John Henry Browne previously told reporters that Bales and his unit were upset after witnessing their fellow soldier allegedly lose his leg in an IED attack a day before the March 11 rampage.

Bales himself suffered a brain concussion on his third tour to Iraq after his vehicle hit an IED, but was deemed fit for duty by army doctors at Joint Base Lewis McChord. That issue seems to be emerging as central to Browne's defense strategy for Bales. "Some people do six or seven tours, but the question is whether the last tour was too much for someone with a concussive brain injury," Browne told Bloomberg News Monday, ahead of meeting with Bales for the first time in the Fort Leavenworth, KS military prison where the 38 year old soldier has been held since Friday. Browne said he expects charges to be filed in the case on Thursday.

Karilyn Bales previously kept a blog about their family life and her efforts to raise their two young children, ages 4 and 3, during Bales' three previous deployments to Iraq, the New York Times reported. Her last blog entry, about a year ago, expressed disappointment that Bales did not receive a promotion to sergeant first class, but expressed hope that they might get relocated by the military to Europe, Hawaii or Kentucky, near Bales' home state of Ohio.

"All I can do now is emphasize my sadness and my condolences to the families in Panjawai for their terrible loss," she concluded her statement this week. "The victims and their families are all in my prayers, as is my husband who I love very much."

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