41 would-be child suicide bombers are rescued
A convoy of 41 children, some aged as young as six, have been rescued from being smuggled over the border to Pakistan and trained as suicide bombers.
The children were stopped in cars driven by four Afghan men in the mountainous eastern province of Kunar, police and interior ministry officials said.
They said their parents had been fooled into believing they were sending their children to religious schools but were instead being sent to be trained to attack Afghan and international forces.
"They were bringing these children in the name of education, but they were not being sent to schools," a police official said. "They were being sent to be suicide bombers."
The children were to be taken to a madrassah close to Peshawar, which officials said was a recruiting ground for militants belonging to Hizb-i-Islami, one of Afghanistan's main insurgent factions.
The children insisted they had no links with insurgents and were being sent only to receive schooling and escape their poverty-stricken villages.
Several said they had lost their fathers in clashes between American troops and insurgents, or in Nato airstrikes.
They told reporters that with their fathers gone, their families could not afford to look after them so they were being sent to private madrassahs where they would receive free food and clothes
Afghan intelligence officials have blamed insurgentsfor launching a wave of child suicide bombers against targets in the past few years.
The four men with the children, Fazl Maula, Syed Habib, Samiullah and Amir Gul, were all arrested, while the boys were sent back to their families. (© Daily Telegraph, London)