Sunday 25 September 2016

Terrifying moment police tackle child suicide bomber

Josie Ensor

Published 23/08/2016 | 02:30

Iraqi security forces detain a boy after removing a suicide vest from him in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Reuters
Iraqi security forces detain a boy after removing a suicide vest from him in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Reuters

Sobbing and terrified, the young boy stood motionless as Iraqi police officers carefully stripped him to his waist. Beneath the 14-year-old's Barcelona football shirt, so large on him it reached down to his knees, was a bomb strapped to his stomach.

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Footage captured by a local television station showed the moment a would-be Isil child suicide bomber was apprehended, seconds before he was able to detonate his explosives belt. Once free of the device, the boy was moved away from the cameras and into a police van to be taken for questioning.

Iraqi security forces remove a suicide vest from a boy in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Reuters
Iraqi security forces remove a suicide vest from a boy in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Reuters

It was reported that he was trying to attack a Shia mosque in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, which was hit by two other suicide attacks over the weekend.

"The boy claimed during interrogation that he had been kidnapped by masked men who put the explosives on him and sent him to the area," said Chato Fadhil Humadi, a Kirkuk intelligence official. He said the child had been displaced from the Isil-held city of Mosul by recent military operations in the area.

Officials suggested he may have been drugged before being sent on his mission against his will by Isil.

The boy's arrest came less than 24 hours after another child suicide bomber killed at least 51 people and injured 100 more at a wedding party in Turkey.

Iraqi security forces remove a suicide vest from a boy in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Reuters
Iraqi security forces remove a suicide vest from a boy in Kirkuk, Iraq. Photo: Reuters

It emerged yesterday that at least 22 of the victims in the south-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep were under 14 years old - the same age the bomber was thought to be. Investigators said the device used was identical to the type used in an attack carried out last year in the capital of Ankara, which was blamed on Isil.

If confirmed, it would mark the first time Isil has used a child suicide bomber in the European country, a worrying development in the fight against the group.

The jihadists have a history of using children as weapons, however, sending them to their death strapped with explosives and putting them on front lines in Iraq and Syria.

Unicef says thousands of children have been abducted in Iraq and forced into becoming combatants or suicide bombers.

A report released earlier this year by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point University in New York found 89 children died fighting for Isil last year. Figures from earlier this year appeared to show the use of child suicide bombers was rising. In one of the most deadly recent examples, a teenager detonated a suicide vest at a youth football game at a stadium in Baghdad.

The group maintains an army of child soldiers, which it calls "cubs of the caliphate", and seeks to re-educate children at Isil-run schools, indoctrinating them with the group's own radical version of Islam and exposing them to violent acts. But while some are brainwashed, others are simply bribed with money or even forced at gunpoint into carrying out orders.

In the Iraqi town of Mufti one 15-year-old fighter who was captured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces told the 'Daily Telegraph' in June that he had been a student training to be a traffic policeman in Mosul when Isil commanders picked him up. He said he was offered 60,000 Iraqi dinars and a gas canister to go and defend the town. "We had little choice," he said. "If you don't do exactly what they say, they will kill you."

He was found hiding in a tunnel with a suicide vest strapped to his chest.

Isil is increasingly having to rely on child recruits as they face mounting losses on the battlefield. As many as 50,000 fighters are thought to have been killed in air strikes and counter-offensives on its territory across Syria and Iraq. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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