19 January 2009 A senior United Nations official today strongly condemned the increasing number of attacks using and targeting children in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including both as victims and perpetrators of suicide bombings, which have been claimed by the Taliban and other armed groups.
“Children must be protected and not targeted,” UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy said in a statement, calling on the Taliban and others to immediately stop using children and cease attacks against civilians.
Ms. Coomaraswamy was particularly appalled by three recent incidents: in January five schools in Northwest Pakistan were blown up after an edict ordering all private schools to close; on December 28, a suicide car bomb killed school children in Mandozayi District; and on December 14, a 13-year-old boy was used as a suicide bomber against British troops in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, killing himself and three soldiers.
The Secretary-General’s recent report on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan in November confirmed that the Taliban continue to train and use children as suicide bombers as well as indiscriminately target children in the conflict areas of Afghanistan.
Ms. Coomaraswamy also expressed grave concern about the increase in the number of child victims of attacks against schools by Taliban insurgents who deny children the right to education. The throwing of acid to prevent girl children and female teachers from going to school is deplorable, she said.
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