Afghan police have arrested human traffickers for trying to ship kidnapped kids to the Taliban to be used as suicide bombers.
Police say that the four alleged traffickers nabbed 25 kids and attempted to send them to the Taliban in Pakistan, where they would be trained as suicide bombers and deployed into Afghanistan, Radio Free Europe reports.
Authorities rescued the children July 9.
These traffickers may have also drugged the children while transporting them in two vans in the Ghazni province, which is located in southeast Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. One of the kids was only four-years-old. According to police, the vans were on their way to the city of Quetta in Pakistan. Quetta is home to the leadership of the Afghan Taliban.
“The children have received medical checkups and treatment,” Ghazni Governor Abdul Karim Mateen told RFE/RL. “They were given substances [by the traffickers] that has made them dizzy and confused. They have lost their senses.”
The practice of kidnapping children for use as suicide bombers is a Taliban tradition dating back at least until 2005. Some of the children come from religious schools called madrassas, and others come from low-income neighborhoods and the streets. The Taliban have been recruiting children to become fighters since the 1990s.
Natalia Kharitonova of the Crisis Situations Research Center told Deutsche Welle that part of the reason the Taliban employs children as suicide bombers is because they can easily gain the trust of targets, allowing for detonation at close proximity.
Patricia Gossman, who researches Afghanistan for Human Rights Watch, told Radio Free Europe that she has not seen any cases of children being kidnapped for the purpose of being deployed as suicide bombers.
In 2014, Afghan officials told the BBC that 90 percent of the juvenile suicide bombers arrested are “trained, lied to, and brainwashed or coerced in Pakistan.”
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