Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taleban hang 7-year-old boy to punish family

Times Online June 10, 2010

Taleban hang 7-year-old boy to punish family
Jerome Starkey, Kandahar Recommend? (35) Read The Times's exclusive investigation into Britain's war in Afghanistan at our new website: US warned Britain to send more troops to Helmand | Pictures: from the frontline | Unworkable command structure | Were platoon houses a disastrous error? | Commander nearly quit in frustration | Complacent British ignored Pentagon advice | Comment: Lessons of Helmand |

A seven-year-old boy was executed by the Taleban in a brutal act of retribution this week, after his grandfather dared to resist the insurgency’s iron rule.

Afghan officials said the boy was accused of spying for US and Nato forces and hanged from a tree in southern Afghanistan.

Daoud Ahmadi, the spokesman for Helmand’s provincial governor, said the murder came just days after the boy’s grandfather, Abdul Woodod Alokozai, spoke out against militants in their hometown.

“I know his father and I know his grandfather,” Mr Ahmadi said. “His grandfather is a tribal elder in the village and the village is under the control of the Taleban. His grandfather said some good things about the government and he formed a small group of people to stand against the Taleban.

“That’s why the Taleban killed his grandson in revenge.”

The attack happened in Heratiyan village, in Sangin district, close to where insurgents shot down an American Pave Hawk helicopter yesterday, killing all four crew.

The helicopter was swooping low over the Taleban infested town to suppress attacks on a grounded air ambulance, which was busy loading British casualties on board.

The killing of children to punish their parents has chilling echoes of western mafia-style violence. Under Pashtunwali, the complex and ancient honour code of the Pashtuns, it is likely to spawn generations of vendettas and blood letting.

Asked about the attack at a press conference, President Hamid Karzai, said he didn’t know if the Taleban had been involved.

The Taleban denied any involvement. They also denied attacking a wedding party in Kandahar yesterday which left at least 40 people dead and more than 80 others seriously wounded.

Both incidents have drawn fierce condemnation from Afghan and international officials.

The insurgents have been known to deny attacks in the past deemed unpopular in the eyes of ordinary Afghans.

“The Taleban’s enemies are the Afghan government and the foreign forces,” spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said. “We never kill children.

Everyone knows a seven year old can’t be a spy.”

But the insurgents are infamous for their brutal, often mob-like, rule and children are not immune.

Last year a group of schoolgirls suffered horrendous burns when men on motorbikes sprayed acid in their faces, as they walked to school in Kandahar. The Taleban denied responsibility for that attack.

While back in Sangin, in 2007, a 15-year-old boy accused of spying suffered an almost identical fate.

Locals said the Taleban found him with American money. He was hanged from a nearby tree, and the dollars were stuffed in his mouth as a warning to others.

This week’s violence came as General Stanley McChrystal warned the planned offensive to regain control of Kandahar would start later and taken longer than planned.

Meanwhile US, Nato and Afghan officials are working on a Peace and Reconciliation Programme designed to lure low level fighters out of the insurgency, with offers of land, money, prestige and jobs, while simultaneously reaching out the their political masters.

The proposals were ostensibly approved at a Peace Conference in Kabul last week. An independent report on peace talks warned the insurgents would react violently against signs of dissent – either within their ranks or within the communities they control.

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