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Taliban turn children into live bombs

Posted by :) on April 24, 2009

Intelligence estimates suggest more than 5,000 children have been trained by Taliban for deadly missions

Daily Times Monitor



TANK: Haneef Mehsud was a normal teenager who spent most of his time hanging out with friends and playing cricket before he was recruited by the Taliban and turned into a suicide bomber. Less than a month after his 17th birthday in late 2008, Haneef killed two soldiers when he rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into an army convoy on a road not far from his home in Pekai, a hamlet in the militancy-plagued South Waziristan. “We tried to stop him when he visited his family two weeks before the attack and informed us that he was soon going to embrace martyrdom,” Haneef’s father, Ghazi Mehsud, told DPI. Ghazi moved to the neighbouring district of Tank in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), to save his second teenage son from the influence of his fellow tribesman and local warlord Baitullah Mehsud, who he blames for Haneef’s recruitment and death. But hundreds more children are still undergoing brainwashing at dozens of ‘suicide nurseries’ run by the ethnic Pashtun Taliban commander. Mehsud, in his 30s, has emerged as the most dangerous Taliban commander in Pakistan in recent years. He heads Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an umbrella group for around a dozen Taliban outfits and has close links with Al Qaeda.

The notorious commander is believed to have been behind several dozen suicide bombings across the country, including the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in late 2007. During the Bhutto case investigations, the authorities detained Aitzaz Shah, 15, in NWFP. Shah told the investigators that he was deployed as the “backup bomber” for Bhutto’s assassination by Mehsud’s men.

According to the DPI report, in January 2008, during a short offensive, the military discovered a suicide nursery in the Spinkai area of South Waziristan. Four months later, the military showed reporters video footage of a classroom where a masked teacher taught children how to carry out a suicide attack. The children, sitting in rows, were wearing white headbands inscribed with Quranic verses.

Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the army’s chief spokesman, said that soldiers had rounded up over 50 boys who were undergoing suicide attack training. The training centre was reopened months later after the military retreated from the area under a controversial peace deal with the Taliban. 5,000 so far: According to intelligence estimates, more than 5,000 child suicide bombers between the ages of 10 and 17 have been trained by the Taliban so far.

Most of them are dispatched to Afghanistan to target international troops and Afghan security forces, but some are deployed for strikes inside Pakistan. On April 6, a child suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia mosque in the Chakwal district, killing 26 people and injuring more than 50.


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