New York: The US-led forces fighting the
Taliban fighters in Afghanistan might soon encounter
`gun-totting` monkeys, trained for `jihad`, if a rumour doing
the rounds in the Chinese media is to be believed.
NATO officials and military experts have scoffed at
the report originating in the Chinese media, which says that
the Taliban are training monkeys to fight the US-led military.
The New York Post cited the state-run People`s Daily
as saying that the Taliban is "training monkeys to use weapons
to attack American troops".
"... the Taliban forces have tried any possible means
and figured out a method to train monkeys as `replacement
killers` against American troops," Stars and Stripes quoted
the Chinese daily as saying.
The militants were arming the primates with AK-47
rifles, machine guns and trench mortars in the Waziristan
tribal region bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan, it claimed.
The monkeys soldiers are being turned into snipers at
a secret Taliban training base and are in turn being rewarded
with `bananas and peanuts`.
"We have absolutely nothing that leads us to believe
that this tale could be even remotely based in reality," said
NATO spokesman Lt Col Todd Breasseale when asked to react on
Christopher Coe, director of the Harlow Primate
Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, questioned the
authenticity of the pictures that were carried with the
report, showing a primate grinning next to a machine gun.
"To my eye at least, it is a baboon, which lives in
Africa," Coe said.
"The more common monkey that lives in that part of
the world is a rhesus monkey. They live in India and can also
be found in China. But this photo is not of a rhesus monkey".
Coe said the noise of weapon fire would certainly
scare most animals.
"While you could train a monkey to shoot a gun, I
certainly wouldn`t want to be anywhere in the neighbourhood
after that. I rather doubt you could trust its aim," he said.