Afghan father tries to cope with rampage that took his family

The Associated Press reports: Mohammad Wazir can barely take a sip of water because it reminds him of his 7-year-old daughter, who brought him a glass three days before she was killed with 10 other loved ones in a shooting spree allegedly carried out by a U.S. soldier in southern Afghanistan.

Wazir said he had asked his wife for a drink but his daughter Masooma brought it instead.

“She said: ‘Ask me, daddy. I can bring you water, too,’ ” Wazir recalled. “She was the beauty of my house. She had black magical eyes.”

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and could face a possible death penalty if convicted. But that has done little to ease the pain of those left behind, who are demanding justice as they struggle to rebuild their shattered lives.
Wazir — who also lost his wife, five other children ages 2 to 15, his mother, his brother, his sister-in-law and his nephew — said he would travel to the U.S. for the trial if given the opportunity but the death penalty for just one man would not be enough.

The only child he has left is his 4-year-old son Habib, who was with him in another town when the shootings occurred.

“They took everything from me,” he said.

Wazir, who is in his mid-30s and splits his time tending his grape fields and helping with a family electronics store, was not home in Balandi that night because he had taken his youngest son to the nearby border town of Spin Boldak to have dinner with his cousins. The area is dangerous so Wazir and his son spent the night. As they were getting ready to return home in the morning, Wazir got a phone call.

The caller said Wazir’s house had been the target of a U.S. attack and some relatives had been injured, but didn’t mention any dead. He rushed home to find hundreds of people gathered outside around some bodies that they were preparing to take to Kandahar city for a funeral.

“I didn’t know that all of them were members of my family,” Wazir recounted as he sat in a friend’s courtyard in the nearby market town of Harmara, where he is staying to avoid the ghosts waiting for him at home. As he spoke, he stared down at his hands, focusing on the knife tattoo on his right knuckles.

People tried to pull him into the crowd but he said he needed to check on his family first.

“Then one of my relatives hugged me and said, ‘Nobody is there for you to talk to.’ ”

Still disbelieving, Wazir ran to his house and found the kitchen still filled with smoke, ashes and blood.

“I was crying and I said to my uncle, ‘Tell me, is anyone in my family alive?’ And my uncle said, ‘It is God’s will. Pull yourself together and come out.’ “

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