Naim said he felt rooted to the ground as the shooter bore down on him. Bullets whizzed through the night. The gunfire seemed to come at him in bursts, perhaps as many as 10 shots altogether, Naim recalled, some fired from just feet away.
Two struck him in the upper left side of his chest and one ripped skin from the left side of his jaw. Then everything went black.
The shooter stepped past Naims unconscious body and entered his home, confronting Rafiullah and his relatives whod taken refuge in the main room. With them were around a dozen of Naims family members, roused by the gunfire but still half-asleep.
Terror unfolded in the crowded space, the frightened faces of women and children illuminated only by a light that Rafiullah said appeared to be affixed to an assault rifle. The shooter drove everyone before him, herding and hunting his victims like animals.
Spotting Rafiullah, he seized one of the boys arms. Rafiullah said his grandmother seized his other arm, to try to stop the soldier from dragging him away. The soldier turned on her.
He shot my grandmother, he wounded my sister Zardana and wounded me, Rafiullah said. He opened fire on Naims son, Sadiqullah, and also opened fire on Naims daughter. Then the soldier left.
Help for the wounded eventually arrived, although Rafiullah like Naim had fallen unconscious, and was unable later to say how long it took to get there. The survivors were rushed, by a relative whod borrowed a car, to a nearby U.S.-Afghan base, then flown by helicopter to a U.S. military hospital at Kandahar airfield.
Rafiullah, who had a gunshot wound to each leg, found himself in a bed next to Naims son, Sadiqullah, whod received a bullet wound to his right earlobe.
Rafiullah told McClatchy that Afghanistans president, Hamid Karzai, phoned him in the aftermath of the attack and U.S. authorities later interviewed him while he was in the hospital. Two times they talked to me, he said.
A day or two after the massacre, he also spoke to the man Karzai had appointed as his chief investigator into the killings, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan army chief .
To all of them I said the same thing, Rafiullah said. I saw only one shooter.
Curiously, Karimi later backed the multiple attacker theory, which was also advanced by Karzai, although Karimi subsequently acknowledged in an interview with McClatchy that Rafiullah and Sadiqullah had told him otherwise.
Naim, who said he regained consciousness four days after the attack, also told McClatchy that U.S. investigators had interviewed him in the hospital. But he said their Afghan counterparts hadnt interviewed him, despite him being one of a handful of adults to survive the shootings.
A tall man with a graying beard and gnarled face, who gave his age as between 50 and 60, Naim said he felt abandoned by the Afghan government after the massacre. No government official had been to see him or to ask about his welfare.
They care only about themselves, he said.
The only official contact hed had since his discharge from the hospital was when he was summoned, still wounded, to Kandahar city and interrogated by an officer from Afghanistans much-feared intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.
That man was a bastard, Naim said. He accused me of having laid IEDs improvised explosive devices, or homemade bombs before the massacre to target the American forces.
Naim said hed previously seen Taliban members placing such devices near his home in Alkozai, but that hed told them not to, as he and his family might be targeted in response. Like many civilians in southern Afghanistan, he felt he was caught in a struggle between the insurgents and U.S.-led forces. Sadiqullah had been wounded earlier by shrapnel from an American mortar round that had landed near his home.
Sadiqullah underwent surgery at the U.S. military hospital in Kandahar after that attack, too, and his wound had barely healed by the night of the massacre.
Rafiullah has largely recovered from the physical wounds. Naim said he needed ongoing medical treatment for his own wounds. He walks with difficulty and has lost strength in his hands. I can hardly pick up this plastic bag, he said.
Zardana, Rafiullahs sister, is the victim most in need of specialized care. Shot in the head, she remains partially paralyzed in the U.S. base hospital. Her uncle, Juma Khan, said U.S. officials had yet to follow through on a pledge to get her more sophisticated care in the United States.
If the Americans cant organize these simple things, they should return Zardana to us so the world can see her condition, he said. If America cant help us, we will ask the international community for help.