Taliban accused of using children as soldiers in Takhar
TALOQAN (Pajhwok): Officials in northern Takhar province accuse the Taliban of using children as soldiers in recent clashes, but the militant group spurns the allegation as propaganda.
Last month, the insurgents overran the Khwaja Ghar district of the province, but the security forces wrested it back after three days of fighting. But Darqad district is still under Taliban’s control.
Gen. Noor Mohammad Hakimi, the provincial police chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Thursday the Taliban had sent children to the war front in the province in October.
“The Taliban are recruiting seminary (madrassa) students, who could be more easily lured into fighting,” he alleged, claiming 80 percent of the rebels killed and captured in Takhar were under 18 years of age.
Similarly, the Khwaja Ghar district’s administrative chief also accused the fighters of using children in their ranks in clashes with the security forces in the province.
Mohammad Omar revealed: “The Taliban recruit madrassa students ahead of fighting in different areas. When clashes erupt there, seminary students are asked to take up arms against the security personnel.”
The child soldiers, after listening to jihadist poems, fight to the bitter end like suicide bombers, according to the official, who denounced the extremist group for exploiting youngsters.
Sunatullah Timor, the governor’s spokesman, confirmed the provincial government had received information about the Taliban’s use of child soldiers.
“But initially, we didn’t know whether the child soldiers were recruited from seminaries or brought from other areas,” he said, adding efforts had been stepped up to prevent Taliban activities inside religious schools.
By the same token, civil society activist Munir Ahmad Hadaf told Pajhwok: “If you go to the countryside, you will see crowds of Taliban. Most of them are under 18 years of age.”
He urged the government to crack down on the practice and ensure all children were granted their constitutionally-guaranteed rights, including the right to education.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid vehemently denied the recruitment of child soldiers by the movement.
“I strongly reject this claim. We have banned the entry of people without beards in our ranks, as it is also unadvisable from the Islamic perspective. In our policy, this restriction is pretty clear.”
Mujahid challenged the government to prove only one instance of a child soldier in Taliban’s ranks.
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