|Grief over 10-year-old Wasil Ahmad’s death has prompted outrage that US
military is allowing child soldiers |
to fight in Afghan Local Police, to which the US gives millions of dollars. Photograph: Twitter
US military attacked for complicity in Afghan child soldiers after boy's murder
By Spencer Ackerman and Sune Engel Rasmussen
The Taliban’s murder of a 10-year old Afghan boy this week has cast a spotlight on the practice by US allies of turning children into fighters in the war-torn country.
Afghans have hailed the heroism of Wasil Ahmad, whom the Taliban killed in Uruzgan province on Monday for fighting alongside his uncle with a US-backed government militia called the Afghan Local Police.
Wasil had won acclaim for helping ALP forces break an insurgent siege after his uncle, the unit’s commander, was wounded. He was declare a national hero by the Afghan government, and paraded, wearing an oversized uniform and wielding an AK-47.
Overshadowed in the outpouring of grief is the grim practice of allowing children to take up arms, particularly alongside a quasi-official force created by the US military.
“There’s nothing heroic about putting a child in danger by arming him and having him fight in a war. The Taliban killed 10-year-old Wasil Ahmad, but those who encouraged him to fight bear responsibility as well,” said Patricia Gossman, the senior Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch.
Afghan officials said that Wasil Ahmad was not formally part of the Afghan Local Police, but his uncle Samad, whose forces the young man fought alongside, was. Child soldiering is supposed to be illegal in Afghanistan, but a September report from Child Soldiers International said that recruitment of child soldiers by Afghan security forces, including the Afghan Local Police, is “ongoing”, though at a recently reduced rate.