Taliban Using Child Soldiers
Some are probably coerced; others likely bribed
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2010 4:32 PM CDT
Afghan children scatter after gunfire erupts nearby, while US Army and Afghan National Army soldiers were searching a marketplace on a patrol in Kandilak, northeastern Afghanistan, Jan. 21, 2010.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(Newser) – The Taliban is using child soldiers as young as three years old in Afghanistan, US Marines tell USA Today. “We've seen children actually dropping mortar rounds in the (firing) tubes against us,” says one. “I've never seen a culture that cares so little for human life.” Children often gather spent cartridges and dropped weapons, plant roadside bombs, pull away wounded Taliban, or are used as human shields—and Marines say their use is spreading.

“We found children with pockets of heroin and wads of cash,” says a Marine who found kids selling heroin wrapped in Koran pages. One report describes five children placed shoulder-to-shoulder to block the movements of escaping insurgents. Commanders believe the Taliban may be coercing families to let their children be used—or bribing adolescents with money or motorcycles. For more on child soldiers, click here.