Skip to main content

Afghan girl says she was sent on a suicide mission

By Masoud Popalzai and Mariano Castillo, CNN
updated 3:21 PM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 10-year-old says she was pressured into a suicide bomb plot
  • She did not go through with it and surrendered to police
  • Afghan and foreign forces have arrested many would-be suicide bomber children
  • The country's President condemns the Taliban

(CNN) -- A 10-year-old Afghan girl alleges that she was pressured to carry out a would-be suicide bombing on a border police station in the southern Helmand province, officials said.

There were conflicting reports about how the plot was foiled, but the fact that a young girl was caught up in the middle of it was shocking enough for President Hamid Karzai to quickly condemn the alleged attackers.

"Children are the future-makers of the country. They should be taken care of, and education opportunities should be provided for them," he said in a statement. "They shouldn't be used as a tool for suicide attacks."

Afghan and foreign forces have arrested many would-be suicide bomber children.

Last year, Afghan police intercepted 41 children whom insurgents were planning to use as suicide bombers. They were between 6 and 11 years old.

According to Karzai, the girl, known only as Spozhmai, was forced to attempt the suicide attack and is now under the government's protection.

The girl's brother, Zahir, is known locally as Hameed Sahib and is a local Taliban commander, the country's Interior Ministry said.

The girl spoke with police and reporters, giving slightly different versions of what the alleged attack plans entailed.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry provided what he said was the definitive version, based on the investigation.

Spozhmai's brother and a friend forced her to attempt a suicide attack on the police station, spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

They took her to a river near the police station and gave her a suicide vest and second pair of clothes to change into once she crossed, Sediqqi said.

Her instructions were to cross the river, spend the night in an abandoned house and approach the police station in the morning as the officers prepared for their daily patrols, the Interior Ministry spokesman said.

Upon entering the water, however, Spozhmai felt cold and started screaming, Sediqqi said.

Police officers heard the screams and ran to the river, he said. At the sight of the police, the brother took the suicide vest and fled, he said.

The officers took the girl to their station, where she opened up with her story, Sediqqi said.

When taken into custody, the girl was not wearing explosives, Umar Zwak, the spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said after reviewing the initial investigation report.

Karzai said he ordered the Interior Ministry to eventually give Spozhmai back to her parents after getting assurances from them that the girl will be able to continue her family life like other children.

New terror weapon: Little girls?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 8:27 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
updated 5:34 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT