Taliban deny using 10-year-old girl to attack Afghan police

The insurgent group dismissed the accusations as government propaganda

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Taliban insurgents have denied dispatching a 10-year-old girl to carry out a suicide attack against Afghan police, a day after the girl said her brother wrapped her in an explosives-packed vest but that she refused to blow herself up, the Associated Press reported.

Qari Yousef Ahamdi, a Taliban spokesman denied any involvement in the alleged plot, which he dismissed as government propaganda.

“We never do this, especially with girls,” Ahamdi said.

The girl, who identified herself only as Spozhmai was detained on Monday and said her brother, named Zahir, is a Taliban commander.

Spozhmai’s brother is still at large while her father, Abdul Ghfar, was arrested by border police in the southern Afghan province, a police commander said.

On Monday, Spozhmai spoke to journalists after Afghanistan's Interior Ministry announced her detention and said she was just 10 years old.

Speaking to television cameras, the 10-year-old girl said her brother told her to approach a checkpoint and ask the deputy commander for a ride with him to neighboring Kunar province.

“I agreed, then he attached the vest on my body and told me to spend the night here and leave in the morning,” Spozhmai said, according to the Associated Press.

But after she and her brother spent the night somewhere, Spozhmai said she had second thoughts.

“I said I won't go, then he took off the vest and tried to convince me that they [police] will die and I will remain alive,” the young girl said adding that her brother then fled with the vest.

Police said they believed her account.

“The guy named Zahir had the suicide vest and escaped, but she was still there and when our commander of the battalion heard her voice, they surrounded the area and brought this girl to their base, and we all heard her story on how she was forced into this action,” Col. Hamidullah Sediqi said.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai condemned the Taliban, saying that “using a child as a suicide bomber is un-Islamic and goes against Afghan culture and beliefs.”

Human rights groups say the insurgent group has occasionally dispatched children for suicide bombings but girls have been used only rarely, according to Heather Barr, Afghanistan senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“There have been very few documented cases of girls being involved in suicide bomb attacks,” Barr said.

According to Human Rights Watch, an 8-year-old girl was killed in 2011 when a bag of explosives the Taliban instructed her to carry to a police checkpoint detonated in central Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.