Taliban leader hunted after allegedly forcing sister, 10, to don suicide vest
Afghan police were yesterday searching for a Taliban commander who allegedly forced his 10-year-old sister to wear an explosives-packed vest for an aborted suicide attack in the southern province of Helmand.
The interior ministry said the girl, named as Spozhmai, was detained before she detonated the vest near a police checkpoint, but some local officials said the trigger button did not work when she pressed it.
Speaking on Monday at a press conference, the girl said she had been ordered by her brother to undertake the suicide mission but had decided at the last minute not to go through with it.
"I was tired of my stepmother. My brother told me to wear the black vest, go to the police checkpoint and press the button," she told reporters. "I went past a river and decided to drop the vest. My brother fled and police arrested me."
The girl, who is now in police custody, also told police she did not want to live at home any longer because her brother and father were Taliban fighters and would kill her, and that she also did not get on with her stepmother.
Female child suicide bombers are extremely rare in Afghanistan, but boys have been used to evade security and detonate explosives - a tactic also seen in Iraq where disabled children have sometimes been persuaded to carry suicide vests.
President Hamid Karzai condemned using children in suicide attacks and called on Taliban leaders to condemn the practice.
"Coercing children into suicide attacks is against the instructions of holy Islam and the values of Afghan culture," he said.