U.S. pays families of Afghan massacre victims

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By Alysha Bohanon

The United States gave the families of 16 Afghan villagers killed this month by an American soldier $50,000 for each of their slain relatives, news sources report.

The payments come before the trial of Staff Sgt. Robet Bales, the soldier accused of killing at least 16 people on March 11, including nine children and four women, the New York Times reported.

In addition to the $50,000 for each person killed in the incident, those wounded in the violence were given $11,000, for a total of $916,000 paid to the families of the victims, according to the Washington Post.

The money was given to the villagers on Saturday. On Friday, the U.S. military charged Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, with 17 counts of premeditated murder, the Washington Post reported.

According to the New York Times, the official Afghan government death toll for the incident is 16, but Bales was charged with 17 counts. Neither Afghan nor American officials have explained this discrepancy.

Haji Agha Lalai, a member of the Kandahar provincial council, pointed out that the payments were merely "assistance" to the wounded and families of the dead, and Bales was still responsible for the crimes he committed, the New York Times reported.

"We are grateful to the United States government for its help with the grieved families. But this cannot be counted as compensation for the deaths," Lalai told the New York Times.

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