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Taliban kill 10-year-old hailed as militia hero

Updated: 2016-02-04 10:10

Taliban kill 10-year-old hailed as militia hero

Wasil Ahmad, 10, an Afghan boy who was declared a hero for fighting the Taliban, has been shot dead by militants while on his way to school. [Photo/IC]

A 10-year-old Afghan boy who was declared a hero after fighting the Taliban has been shot dead by insurgents while on his way to school.

Wasil Ahmad, who fought the Taliban alongside his uncle on many occasions, was killed on Monday near his home in Tirin Kot, capital of the southern Uruzgan province, said deputy police chief Rahimullah Khan.

Wasil had been a local celebrity of sorts. Photographs widely circulated on social media show him holding an automatic weapon and wearing a uniform and helmet.

Wasil's uncle was a former Taliban commander who changed allegiance to the government and was appointed local police commander in Khas Uruzgan district, Khan said.

The use of child soldiers is illegal in Afghanistan, but the charity Child Soldiers International said both government forces and insurgents had been recruiting minors for years.

The organisation's policy and advocacy director Charu Lata Hogg said the Afghan government, despite pledging to stop the recruitment and use of children by the Afghan security forces, was making "slow and tardy progress".

She said: "There is a lack of political will to address this issue, and while it's within the framework of overall human rights violations, there is a specific commitment by the government to clean it up but sufficient measures are not being taken."

In a June 2015 report presented to the UN security council's working group on children and armed conflict, the London-based charity said children were recruited by the Afghan national police and the Afghan local police. It said the recruitment was mainly driven by poverty, but also filial duty, patriotism and honour.

The Afghan local police, set up with US and British funding to provide security at a district level, has been widely criticised for a range of abuses, including extortion, as in many places it operates much like an independent militia. The government has been urged to disband the force but relies on it to supplement the overstretched army and police.

The report said that in May of last year the charity found that half of national police checkpoints in Tirin Kot "were staffed with visibly younger officers", who all acknowledged they were under 18 years old.

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