01.09.14 6:00 PM ET
Ten-year-old Afghan Girl Attempts Failed Suicide Attack
A 10-year-old girl allegedly given a bomb vest and ordered to carry out a suicide attack by an older brother should be returned to live with her family, Hamid Karzai said.
The Afghan president told his officials to get assurances from local leaders that the girl, called Spogmai, would not be harmed by her relatives.
Police officials said the girl was arrested when she turned herself in on the way to detonating at a border police checkpoint in southern Helmand province.
She had been ordered to attack police in Khan Neshin district by her brother, a local Taliban commander called Zahir, they said.
Mr Karzai told interior ministry officials to reunite Spogmai with her family after getting assurances in front of local leaders about her safety, according to the Pajhwok news agency.
Mr Karzai, who is approaching the end of his second and final term as president, condemned the use of children in suicide attacks.
“Coercing children into suicide attacks is against the instructions of holy Islam and the values of Afghan culture,” he said.
Taliban militants have long been accused of using young boys for suicide attacks, but reports of using girls are much rarer. The insurgent movement has previously claimed its bombers are always adult volunteers.
Officials and Spogmai continued to give varying reports about what had happened in the incident.
Spogmai, believed to be aged around 10, said she had been ordered by her brother to wade across a river to get to her target, after he strapped the bomb vest onto her. At the last minute she decided 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, according to the AFP news agency.
“I went past a river and decided to drop the vest. My brother fled and police arrested me. He had told me nothing would happen to me.”
Some reports said she had been captured in the vest and others said Zahir had fled with it.
The local governor said he had started an investigation.
Omar Zwak, his spokesman, said: “They will try to find the brother and father of the girl, and they will visit the police post and talk to the police who found and detained the girl. We are trying to find out what exactly has happened.”