“Killing Children on a Day of Prayer”

24.06.07

Categorie: Afghanistan |

Tom Hyland at the Australian Sunday Age newspaper has written an excellent analysis of the June 15 Tarin Kowt suicide bombing, which killed 11 Afghan children and one Dutch soldier outside a girls’ school:

Accounts of what happened highlight the risks faced daily by troops who need a ring of armoured vehicles to protect them as they do the benign work of reconstruction. But they also tell a wider story of how, by the perverse standards of the Taliban, foreign soldiers and school children are perfect and complimentary targets in their campaign to overthrow the Western-backed government.

By killing foreign soldiers, the Taliban hopes to undermine public support for a commitment to a complex, distant war. Opinion polls in Dutch newspapers last week showed almost half of those surveyed wanted their troops pulled out when their two-year mission expires in August next year.

By killing civilians, the Taliban tries to undermine Afghan confidence in the ability of foreign soldiers to give security to people who have known decades of war.

By attacking a school, they target one of the few symbols of the central government in an isolated, neglected and desperately poor province. And by attacking a girls’ school they reinforce their commitment to an extreme ideology, where girls are deprived of education and kept as virtual prisoners at home.

australian-engineers-work-on-a-boys-school-in-tarin-kowt-june-15-2007-the-smoke-is-from-a-nearby-suicide-bombing.jpg“To complete the ghastly picture, there is also evidence that the extremists are increasingly recruiting children as suicide bombers,” Hyland continues:

It was possible that some suicide bombers came from “outside Afghanistan’s borders”, he said — a reference to Pakistan, whose lawless frontier provinces are a sanctuary and training ground for Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. There was evidence some bombers were young boys, recruited from madrassas, religious schools.

A recent Taliban propaganda video showed a madrassa “graduation”, where a Taliban leader bragged children as young as 12 were willing to die.

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4 Responses to ““Killing Children on a Day of Prayer””

  1. Brian H says:

    Can you imagine the reaction if the madrassas were bombed to cut off the supply?
    >:-(

  2. [...] Three weeks ago a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Dutch troops and Afghan kids at a school in Uruzgan province, killing 12. Now it’s happened again, in nearby Dehrawud, according to the Associated Press: A suicide bomber targeted a patrol in a crowded marketplace filled with schoolchildren Tuesday, killing at least 17 people, including 12 students, officials said.  The attack — one of the deadliest of the year — injured more than 50 people, mostly students, but also seven Dutch soldiers patrolling on foot whom the bomber apparently had targeted. The Interior Ministry put the death toll at 17. It was not immediately clear if that count also included six deaths reported by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, which was treating critical injuries at its medical facility in Tirin Kot, the provincial capital. [...]

  3. [...] “Killing Children on a Day of Prayer” [...]

  4. [...] Which echoes perfectly my own experience in the very Afghan town this Digger will be patrolling: Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province. In June I paid a visit to an Aussie unit guarding a bunch of civil engineers working to rebuild a soccer field for a boys’ school. The troops arrived a full day before the engineers, cleared the area with the help of a bomb-sniffing dog, then sat around, sending out the occasional patrol and posting sentries, but mostly watching. On day two, a suicide bomber hit a nearby Dutch patrol. Ten minutes of excitement, then right back to sitting around watching … for several more days, under the blazing sun, with nothing but paperback novels and bad chow for distractions. [...]

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