JAWZJAN (SW): The militants of the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement (UIM) have been using the Qosh Tapa district in Jawzjan province as their training camp to train children on suicide attacks and landmines.
For long, I have been trying to interview one of these children, and finally, the security forces in Jawzjan permitted me to interview a 12-year-old boy called Afzal. The boy, whose real name is not revealed, said that he had been trained along with dozens of other children on how to attack schools and government facilities and plant roadside mines.
According to him, the Uzbekistani fighters have kidnapped and tortured those families who prevented their children from joining them.
A number of families and close relatives of these children, who have seen the UIM recruiting children as soldiers, told Salam Watandar that the government should prevent these groups from using children as soldiers. They cautioned that if the government remained indifferent to the security situation in Qosh Tapa, the UIM will take away the children of Sheberghan city with them.
Local residents Marfat, Haidar, and Shir Dil told Salam Watandar that between 200 to 300 children have been training at these terrorist camps in Qosh Tapa, and three women from Uzbekistan have been recruiting children from Chaqma Chaqor area in Jawzjan.
According to the residents of Qosh Tapa, many of these children in Qosh Tapa and Darzab districts have been taken from their families under the pretext of teaching them the holy Quran, and have been transferred to the religious educational center in Qosh Tapa. They said the children will be sent to various provinces to carry out terrorist attacks after they are brainwashed and trained for terrorism.
Mohammad Raza Ghafoori, spokesperson for governor of Jawzjan, said that the UIM and Daesh have been active in Afghanistan. According to him, insecurity has caused the closure of many schools in most of the districts of Jawzjan, and has deprived 30,000 students of receiving education. According to him, closure of schools and inability to receive formal education has led the children to join terrorists and become child soldiers.
Hassan Salemi, head of the High Commission for Combating Human Trafficking in Jawzjan, said that on the basis of the new laws regarding ‘combating human trafficking and trafficking of immigrants’, the recruitment and brainwashing of children for the purpose of military and terrorist training is considered a form of human trafficking. “The government of Afghanistan has not been successful in preventing the Daesh and the Taliban groups from recruiting the children in their ranks and use them as child soldiers”, said Hassan Salemi.
The security officials also confirmed the deteriorating security situation in Qosh Tapa district, and said that due to insecurity and blockages of roads, the security forces have been receiving their military equipment and rations by air only.