Afghan suicide vest girl ‘treated like a slave’ by family who tried to make her blow up police checkpoint

The girl, believed to be around 10 years old, said she would rather kill herself than be sent back home

Adam Withnall
Monday 13 January 2014 09:51
Spozhmai, 10, who was about to be used by the Taliban as a suicide bomber, talks as she sits at a police office in Helmand province on 6 January 2014
Spozhmai, 10, who was about to be used by the Taliban as a suicide bomber, talks as she sits at a police office in Helmand province on 6 January 2014

A young girl in Afghanistan who was found wearing a suicide vest has spoken about how her family “treated her like a slave” and tried to force her to blow up a police checkpoint.

The girl, who is known only as Spozhmai, told police when she was found last week that her brother Zahir was a prominent Taliban commander. Today she said he had beaten her and forced her to put on the explosive-filled vest.

Thought to be around 10 years old, police say Spozhmai was spotted wearing the vest last Monday by an Afghan soldier, and taken into protective custody in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

Her father Abdul has told reporters he wants her to move with him to another part of Afghanistan to get away from the Taliban – but she says he was aware of the plan from the start.

“They were all in it together,” she told the BBC’s Newsday programme. “It was my dad first, and then it was passed down to my brothers.”

She added that her father had ordered her to return home, but she refused to obey, telling him: “No, I will kill myself rather than go with you.”

Spozhmai said she was “treated as if I was a slave” by her family, and not allowed to read and write. She said: “I did all the things at home, I cooked, I cleaned the whole house. My brother told me you are here in this world and you will die, you are not here to learn or do other things.”

She has appealed to the Afghan President Hamid Karzai to put her into a new home, and a spokesperson for his office said she would only be sent back to her family if tribal elders could guarantee her safety.

“I won't go back there,” she said in her appeal. “God didn't make me to become a suicide bomber. I ask the president to put me in a good place.”

Spozhmai told the BBC that if she is sent back “the same thing will happen again”. “They have told me before: ‘If you don't do it this time, we will make you do it again.’”

President Karzai has condemned the Taliban over the alleged plot – yet they deny having any involvement.

Qari Yousef Ahamdi, a spokesman for the group, dismissed the story as “government propaganda” and said: “We never do this, especially with girls.”

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