Use of girl child suicide bomber in Afghanistan causes outcry from UN

Posted on | juli 4, 2011 | No Comments

Hearing news of suicide bombers is no longer one of shock or dismay, as it has become an all too common mainstay of modern warfare.  The use of suicide bombers has dramatically increased since its modern beginnings in the 198o’s which saw an average of 4.7 attacks a year to 180 attacks a year in the first half of the 2000′s (The Moral Logic and Growth of Suicide Terrorism Fig. 1, p.128).   However what began it break a few years ago that did leave many in a state of disbelief was that of  The Continued Rise of the Child Suicide Bomber (February 2008), as the article brought to light the increased use of children as suicide bombers.  The following year the story had changed little as shown in the 2009 post, The battle for child suicide bombers.

The issue of child suicide bombers may not have been gracing the daily headlines of the war in Afghanistan, however the news last week of the forcible recruitment of a girl suicide bomber has now brought the issue to the forfront, causing outcries from the UN.  In response to the brutal and deadly attack, Special Representative Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict,  Radhika Coomaraswamy issued a statement  on the appalling use of the unwhitting girl as a suicide bomber recruited out of Pakistan. 

The girl who is only 9 years-old stated, she was on her way to school when she was kidnapped and drugged after which she was forced to wear a detonation vest and dropped off with orders at the Darra Islam checkpoint in Pakistan’s lower district. “Instead of detonating the jacket, after getting out of the car, the child started shouting and running towards the paramilitary frontier corps soldiers stationed at the… post,” the officer said.  She was arrested, her explosive vest was taken off and she was placed in custody, he said. (CNN). 

The news of the girls recruitment and escape comes only one month following the Taliban’s denial of any use of children as suicide bombers.  The denial was in direct response to the detainment of some 100 boys between the ages of 12-17  years old, who were being detained by Afghanistan’s National Intelligence Directorate (NDS) on ‘charges of attempting suicide attacks on behalf of the Taliban, but the insurgents deny they recruit minors as their presence could cause “vice” in the ranks’ (IRIN).

According to reports from UNAMA, there were approximately 140 suicide attacks, which led to at least 228 deaths in 2010 in Afghanistan.

“About 100 would-be child suicide attackers are currently in our custody,” Lutfullah Mashal, an NDS spokesman, told IRIN, adding that the children had been trained by the Taliban, Hezbe Islami and the Haqqani Group – the three main insurgent groups which are also accused by the UN of using children for military purposes, including suicide missions.

“We have evidence that the Taliban have been recruiting children aged 11-17 to carry out a range of activities – from armed combat to smuggling of weapons across the Pakistan-Afghan border and planting IEDs [improvised explosive devices],” said Dee Brillenburg Wurth, a child rights adviser with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). 

According to IRIN ‘UNAMA said it has been conducting research to try and collate data on cross-border child recruitment by state and non-state military actors’, as they believe that the majority of the children trained and reared to be sicide bombers are being inducted in Pakistan.  Although the Taliban states otherwise, other reports suggest extremist religious groups are training children in jihad.

While releasing statements condemning the use of children, the UN acknowledges it is very difficult to monitor and report on the recruitment of children in non-state armed forces because of lack of access. “And some of it is cross-border as well, so those are the difficulties we face,” said  Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said in a statement at a press conference in Kabul on 24 February 2010.

Why do the Taliban and other militant forces continue to use children as suicide bombers?  The answer is simple, they are easy to manipulate and influence, as well children are still seen as the least likely suspect and thus less likely to be arrested, making them more effective than their adult counterparts.

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clifford
URL: www.bridgetofreedomfoundation.org and http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com
E-MAIL: Cassandra [at] btff.org

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