Is the Taliban using girls in suicide bombings?
An 8-year-old Afghan girl was apparently tricked into a suicide bombing yesterday, while a Pakistani girl who narrowly escaped a similar ploy was returned home to her family last night.
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Historically, Islamic religious scholars on the Afghan-Pakistani frontier have not made any justifications for involving children in armed struggle, nor have they set a minimum age, says Sana Haroon, author of “Frontier of Faith.”Skip to next paragraph
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The United Nations defines fighters under age 18 as child soldiers and has criticized both the Afghan government and the insurgency for recruiting children. Child advocates suggest the Taliban may be saying what the international community wants to hear, but acting differently on the ground.
Firsthand experience with young Taliban recruits
Feriha Peracha says she knows firsthand that the Pakistani Taliban, at the very least, are recruiting young children. She is a psychiatrist rehabilitating 162 boys between ages 12 and 17 who were trained by the Taliban in northwest Pakistan. Some 30 were trained as suicide bombers, she says. They are often given alcohol or drugs prior to a suicide mission.
She has heard of girls being used by militants to transport suicide vests from Afghanistan into Pakistan, since girls are ignored at checkpoints. Dr. Peracha says she hopes to get her colleagues working soon with Kainat, the Pakistani girl who was returned to her family last night.
“She needs some psycho-social intervention and we’ll try to help her out,” says Peracha.
Kainat received many hugs and tears of joy when she returned from a hospital with her uncle and cousin, according to her father, Mohammad Afzal.
“When we wanted to talk with her she replied very little and was not feeling well,” says Mr. Afzal via phone. The girl later cried out in her sleep. “We hope she may be okay in a few days.”
Kainat goes by one name, which her father says was incorrectly reported in the media as Sohana Javed. Upon her return home, the girl reiterated her story to her parents.
A white car carrying two men and two women approached her as she left school. They put a piece of cloth over her mouth and she passed out, waking up to find her abductors arranging a suicide vest on her near the Islam Darra police checkpost in Dir. The jacket did not fit her, so her captors returned to the car to fetch another one. In the meantime, Kainat cried for help to the security forces, who then took her into custody.