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Groomed for attacks

world Updated: May 19, 2011 01:31 IST

The Taliban gave Noor Mohammad a simple choice - either they would cut off his hand for stealing or he could redeem himself and bring glory on his family by becoming a suicide bomber.

Held in Taliban custody in a different village from his parents, after allegedly stealing mobile phones during a wedding party in his village, the 14-year-old boy went for the second option.

He was soon being given basic lessons in how to use a handgun, which he would use to shoot the guards at a nearby US military base in Ghazni, a province in south-east Afghanistan which is considered the most violent in the country. He was also fitted with a suicide vest that covered his torso with explosives.

He was told that when inside the base he should touch two trailing wires together, killing himself and as many US and Afghan soldiers as possible.

Such is one method by which the Taliban recruit a growing number of children used for suicide missions. A tactic pioneered by al-Qaeda but unheard of in Afghanistan until 2005, suicide bombing is becoming more popular with insurgents attempting to meet the massively intensified Nato campaign with their own surge of violence.

It is feared that hundreds of children may have been radicalised and turned into bombers in what Haneef Atmar, Afghanistan's former interior minister, describes as "hate madrasas".

Suicide bombing has also developed a sinister glamour among the youth of the Pakistan's tribal areas.

The Guardian