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Not Clear Yet Why Death Toll In Afghan Killings Has Risen To 17

Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during an August 2011 training exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Spc. Ryan Hallock
/
AFP/Getty Images
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales during an August 2011 training exercise at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Along with the word that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be formally charged with murder today for the deaths of unarmed Afghan men, women and children on March 11, was the news that the death toll had grown to 17. Until Thursday afternoon, U.S. military officials had consistently said that 16 people were killed.

As The Associated Press has reported, officials made the change without offering a public explanation for it.

So, why did the number grow?

The AP writes that "it's possible some of the dead were buried before U.S. military officials arrived at the scene of the carnage" and that investigators have only recently become aware of the additional fatality.

MSNBC says it's been told different things by different unnamed sources: "One senior U.S. defense official said one of the injured has died in the past few days, but the other senior U.S. defense official believed the U.S. military has evidence there was a 17th body at the scene."

Hopefully we'll learn more after the charges against Bales are made public, which is supposed to happen around 1:30 p.m. ET. He's also expected to be charged with six counts of attempted murder.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.