Last weekend, the Afghan intelligence service paraded five young boys—some not yet adolescents—in front of reporters and photographers to send a clear message: "The Taliban are recruiting children in their ranks and using them to carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan," a spokesman said. One 9-year-old says his mullah promised that “when we carried out our suicide attacks, all the people around us would die, but we would stay alive.” He traveled from Pakistan into Afghanistan with three other boys, but instead of being met at the border by members of the Taliban, they were picked up by Afghan intelligence officials who were tipped off to the plan, the AP reports.
Afghan officials say the Taliban uses children because they tend to believe whatever the recruiters tell them, but the Taliban denies the accusation and alleges that it’s actually the Afghan police who are using the boys. But Afghan officials note that, although confirmed cases are rare, children have been used as suicide bombers in the past and the number of such attacks is increasing. Most recently, a 12-year-old blew himself up on May 1, killing four.