Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Child Militants in Pakistan Conned into Suicide

Boys of all ages are subject to exploitation at madrassahs, say child rights groups
26 May 2008 (IRIN) - Authorities are investigating allegations that militants running some madrassas (Islamic schools) in Swat Valley, north-western Pakistan, are recruiting and training children as soldiers. According to local newspaper reports, the police are questioning six men accused of such offences.

The Swat Valley area, some 160km northeast from Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) capital Peshawar, has seen intense fighting between militants and government forces since November 2007.

However, an agreement was finalised on 21 May between representatives of the militants and government officials in NWFP, under which it is hoped peace will return to the area.

Shaukat Salim, the district coordinator of the Child Rights Committee (CRC) of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), an Islamabad-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), told IRIN that child militancy had been on the rise in the area.

Child militants caught

Salim said that about 25 to 30 madrassa students, aged between seven and 15, had been used by leaders of extremist outfits in Swat to carry out attacks. These children have been detained by security forces and are being held at Swat District Jail.

According to Salim, six others students from a madrassa in the Kabal tehsil (sub-district) have been apprehended by the police for their alleged involvement in an attempted suicide attack.

Salim also cited the story of Abid, 12, who he said had been forced to wear a suicide bomb jacket with which he was to blow up the district courts. He was also caught and is among those being held at Swat jail, Salim said.


No comments: