London : Boys as young as 12 are being used by the Taliban to plant bombs designed to kill and maim British troops in Afghanistan, a media report said Sunday.
Army commanders say insurgents are forcing children to lay improvised explosive devices (IEDs) because they know they will not be shot by British snipers, Daily mail reported on its website.
Senior military sources say the children’s parents and families are likely to have been threatened by the Taliban to allow their sons to carry out the dangerous task.
Details of the new tactic were revealed Saturday night in Sangin in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where soldiers of the 3 Rifles Battle Group have been fighting the Taliban for the past four months.
Troops say they have seen insurgents sending out boys to lay IEDs, sometimes only 150 yards from British positions.
A senior Army source said: “The Taliban know that if they get caught in the sights of our snipers, they don’t last long, so they have resorted to hiding behind compound walls and directing children to plant bombs for them.
“Lots of home-made IEDs detonate before they have even been laid, but the Taliban don’t seem to care whether a child gets killed or maimed. Some boys are as young as 12.”
In neighbouring Musa Qaleh district, where Prince Harry’s Household Cavalry Battle Group operates, child victims of IEDs are common. Many come from poor farming families. They unwittingly pick up detonators to play with them, only to have hands blown off.