The Taliban have begun using child suicide bombers in eastern Afghanistan, underscoring the increasingly brutal nature of the fighting in a volatile region that is emerging as the central front of the U.S.-led war.
In one of the deadliest such attacks, a 12-year-old boy wearing a suicide vest detonated himself in a crowded marketplace in Paktika province last month, killing four people, including a high-ranking local Afghan official, and wounding a dozen others.
In late May, Afghan security forces arrested a 9-year-old and two other boys as they attempted to cross into Afghanistan from Pakistan, according to an official in the Afghan Interior Ministry with direct knowledge of the incident who asked to remain anonymous. The three boys, all under the age of 14, admitted that they had been sent into the country to carry out suicide attacks, the official said. More than two dozen would-be child bombers are in Afghan custody, with most arrested in eastern Afghanistan, the official said.