Protesters rally against Afghan civilian deaths


March 17, 2012 8:07:23 PM PDT
More than 150 Afghans and Afghan supporters gathered in Fremont Saturday to hold a vigil for the civilians who an army staff sergeant is accused of killing.

The group lined Fremont streets chanting for peace and justice. They came to the Bill Ball Plaza to pay their respects and mourn the loss of 16 women and children whom an army staff sergeant is accused of killing.

"What we really want right now is to have the end of civilian deaths. There've been too many incidents and it's enough. We're done," said Saylai Mohammadi.

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, is now being held at Ft. Leavanworth prison for the killings.

Bales' friends and neighbors find it hard to connect the man they know with what happened.

Kassie Holland, a neighbor, said, "I'm shocked. I can't believe that it was him. There were no signs. It's really sad."

Other friends say Bales, who was on his Middle East fourth deployment, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They say after three tours in Iraq, two battle wounds and the recent loss of a comrade, he just snapped.

"I think everybody would agree that nobody would do something like that if they were really thinking clearly," said neighbor Stuart Ness.

The group that gathered in Fremont said they want answers. They want justice for the victims, and they want to be heard.

Naddem Saaed, an Afghan-American, said, "We've heard a lot of apologies and I seriously don't think -- it's not enough."

The group is going to be sending 200 form letters to President Obama, asking for a change in the strategy in Afghanistan, justice for the victims and a formal apology.

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