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Massacre wife defends her husband

The wife of the US soldier accused of massacring 17 Afghans has defended him as a loving family man.

Karilyn Bales said she found the accusations "unbelievable", in an interview for NBC's Today show.

She said Staff Sgt. Robert Bales joined the army after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, to "protect his family, friends and country. He wanted to do his part," and added that her husband was "very brave, very courageous."

Bales is accused of going off base in southern Afghanistan earlier this month and killing eight Afghan adults and nine children.

His wife said: "He loves children, he's like a big kid himself. I have no idea what happened, but he would not ... he loves children, and he would not do that."

He was formally charged on Friday with 17 counts of murder and other crimes.

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.

The 38-year-old father of two young children is being held at a US military prison at Fort Leavenworth.

Mrs Bales has spoken to him by phone twice since he was detained. He called her first from overseas shortly after massacre, and then last week from Fort Leavenworth where the two talked about family matters and "reaffirmed their love for each other," said her lawyer.

The family has set up a defence fund to help pay for Bales' legal fees.

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