|Of the 17 civilians killed in the pre-dawn attack in southern Afghanistan, nine were children [Al Jazeera]
The wife of the US soldier charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in a pre-dawn attack in Afghanistan has expressed disbelief that her husband was involved in the killings of 17 civilians, including nine children.
Karilyn Bales, in an interview that aired on the US morning programme The Today Show on Monday, said she has spoken to her husband, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, by telephone twice since he was detained, but has yet to ask him about the accusations he faces.
"We couldn't discuss those details,'' she said of the monitored phone conversations.
"I have no idea what happened, but he would not — he loves children and he would not do that" she said of the March 11 massacre, of which over half the victims were children.
The accused soldier's wife said she was at a market when she had first received word of the attack in the Panjawi district of southern Kandahar province.
"I saw 38-year-old staff sergeant, and I don't think there are very many of those...I probably prayed and prayed that my husband wasn’t involved," she said.
When Karilyn was finally told about the shootings, she said "they held my hand and they just said that perhaps, you know, they thought that he had left the base, and gone out and perhaps killed the Afghan civilians, and that was really the only sentence, and I just started crying".
Of the charges of murder in the first degree, including that of nine children, facing her husband, the mother of two said: "I can't imagine losing my children, so my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children."
Although she said her husband seemed "a bit confused, as to where he was and why he was there" during their phone conversations, she said she saw few signs of post-traumatic stress disorder in her husband throughout his military career.
He never told her about a traumatic brain injury he suffered while in Iraq until he returned home.
"Not until he came back and said that he, you know, had been blown up,'' she said. "He shielded me from a lot of what he went through. He's a very tough guy."
US investigators have said they believe Bales killed in two episodes, returning to his base after the first attack and later slipping away to kill again. He is reported to have surrendered without a struggle.
"I don't think anything will really change my mind in believing that he did not do this. This is not what it appears to be," she told NBC's Matt Lauer.