Wasil Ahmad commanded a police unit for 43 days during the 71-day siege at the Taliban last year. Praised by his bravery in leading the battle, he was later on killed by militants. He was only eleven years old.
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Despite his age and laws prohibiting the use of children in warfare, Wasil distinguished himself on the battlefield, said his uncle, Mullah Samad, who was an Afghan Local Police commander. The boy started his career as a gunman last year after he lost his father in the fight against the Taliban. After the incident, he asked Samad to teach him how to use machine guns.
“I asked him why did he want to learn,” Samad shared. “He told me that he wanted to take revenge from those (who) had killed his father.”
He also added that he trained the boy using AK-47 and PK machine guns, rockets, mortars, as well as satellite phones and VHF radios—all of which he learned quickly. When he and his men were injured by an attack last year, that was when Ahmad took command of the men, even positioning himself on the roof of the family home, firing his machine gun.
Samad also said that there were days that his nephew was able to fire up to 3,000 bullets in a day. Although he commanded the troops for only 43 days in total, he achieved a lot. Samad added that the authorities recognized and praised their hard work, declaring himself and his nephew both heroes.
On the day he was shot, Ahmad was just ready to move on with his life, returning to the civilian life. He wanted to continue his education, hoping to join the police force one day. After the brutal shooting, the young boy was taken to the local hospital, then transferred to a better-equipped one in Kahdahar. Unfortunately, they were not able to revive him and he eventually died due to his extensive injury.
Malala Yousafzai, an education activist who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012, spoke about Wasil’s situation. She told CNN’s Cristiane Amanpour, “It’s not just this one boy, but it’s happened to many children and many people in that region. It’s tragic that they do not have sympathy for children, for innocent children.”
The Taliban, on their Web site, claimed responsibility for the murder of the 11-year-old, who left behind his mother, two younger sisters, and three younger brothers. There are still laws disallowing children to be part of warfare, but for Wasil, the tragedy came as he was fighting for the safety of his family from the siege.
Wasil’s case was not a separate incident. Children from both sides are known to fight in the wars, and some of them even carried out suicide attacks. A report from a rights groups said that there have been at least 38 verified cases of children being used by the Afghan national security forces, 27 of which were recruited by the Local Police and one by the National Army.
Still, Sediq Sediqqui, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior Affairs, insisted that policy regarding the recruitment of children in warfare has been strict.
“No child is recruited,” Sediqqui shared. “Things have improved in (the Afghan Local Police) now. (The Ministry of Interior Affairs) is serious when it comes to evaluating and controlling ALP functions.”