Kabul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday denounced the use of child suicide bombers, saying that militants who recruit them to wage terror are "oppressors of Islam" and "oppressors of children”.
The President`s message was designed to highlight how the Taliban and other militants are soliciting children to conduct suicide bombings, which often kill other innocent Afghans and Muslims.
Karzai sat in a sunny courtyard at the presidential palace with about 20 youth who had either surrendered to Afghan authorities or had been arrested across the nation in connection with planned suicide bombings. After a brief chat, he ordered aides to help the young men, ages 10 through 16, find homes, education or be released to their parents.
He challenged the older ones to have a discussion with him and his religious advisers about whether launching suicide bombings and conducting other violence were the best ways to secure the future of Afghanistan.
"If you convince us that you are right, we will go with you," Karzai told them.
In southern Afghanistan, a local government official was assassinated on Tuesday evening — the third official killed in Helmand province in a week, officials said.
The governor`s office in Helmand said two gunmen on a motorcycle fired at a member of the Nawa district council in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. The councilman was rushed to a hospital but died of his wounds.
Insurgents have responded to heavy pressure from US and NATO coalition forces by targeting officials and others aligned with the Afghan government.
In two incidents on Sunday, militants killed a councilman and chief prosecutor from Gereskh district.
On Friday, a man with a bomb hidden in his turban blew himself up outside the Helmand governor`s compound. One policeman was injured in the blast.
Also in the south, a NATO service member was killed in an insurgent attack on Wednesday, the coalition said. So far this month, 70 NATO service members have died in the war, including at least 60 Americans.