Last year, Afghanistan officials proudly declared young Wasil Ahmad a hero for his role in leading a militia’s defense siege against a Taliban-mounted siege, giving the boy a borrowed police officer’s uniform and giving him multiple photo sessions. Today, the 10-year-old hero was gunned down by two bullets to the head, an act the Taliban has claimed responsibility for.
Wasil was gunned down in the city of Tirin Kot, the capital of southern Oruzgan Province, on his way to school only a few short months after leaving the life of militia behind. The deputy police chief of the province, Rahimullah Khan, said that the 10-year-old was a fourth grader in his school.
The 10-year-old had been fighting against the Taliban for a number of his few years alongside his uncle, Mullah Abdul Samad, who was a former Taliban but defected to work for the government and became a local police commander in Khas Uruzgan district. Wasil’s father was also among 36 of the men that defected with his uncle. Wasil had begun fighting against the Taliban shortly after his father and 18 of his uncle’s men died fighting the Taliban, and many believe that revenge was the boy’s motive. The government and the Taliban have been at war for over 15 years.
Photographs of 10-year-old Ahmad wearing a military uniform, complete with an helmet, while holding an assault rifle abound on social media. According to CBS News, Rafiullah Baidar, spokesperson for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, has accused Ahmad’s family and the government as being at fault for the boy’s death.
“Possibly he took up arms to take revenge for his father’s death, but it was illegal for the police to declare him a hero and reveal his identity, especially to the insurgents.”
Wasil Ahmad’s death has once more brought attention to the tragedy that so often occurs as child combatants continue to be a part of life in Afghanistan, used by both the Taliban and the government. Baidar has stated despite President Ashraf Ghani giving strict orders last year against the military using children, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has continuous reports of child soldiers in the Afghan forces, especially in the Afghan local police militias. Baidar did also condemn the Taliban for killing the 10-year-old, since he had moved onto the life of a civilian.
“There was no threat from this child to the armed opposition. If they had targeted him in a military base, then they could have raised the question of what was a child doing in a military base. But he was targeted in front of his home.”
Reports show that in the northern part of the country, in recent fighting places like Kunduz and Badakhshan, the Taliban is also using child soldiers to fight their battles.
The New York Times argued that Wasil’s life behind a gun had chosen him long before he was even born given his family history. Last summer, when the Taliban intensified its offensives across the country, they besieged Mullah Abdul Samad forces for more than two months. Halfway through the siege, a Taliban attack wounded Samad and some of his men, and it was then that Wasil assumed command of the defense. In an interview, Samad praised his nephew for his bravery and quick thinking as he revealed Wasil had fired rockets from a roof.
“He fought like a miracle. He was successfully leading my men on my behalf for 44 days until I recovered.”
Wasil’s death occurred on Monday, and he has already been buried in Tirin Kot, in the Shahidano graveyard. Wasil Ahmad left two younger brothers behind.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the death of the 10-year-old boy on their website, announcing that they had killed a stooge militiaman.
[Photo by AP Images]