Taleban hang 7-year-old boy to punish family

Kandahar, Afganistan - A seven-year-old boy was murdered by the Taleban in an apparent act of retribution this week. Afghan officials said that the child was accused of spying for US and Nato forces and hanged from a tree in southern Afghanistan.

Daoud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial governor of Helmand, said that the killing happened days after the boy’s grandfather, Abdul Woodod Alokozai, spoke out against militants in their home village.

Mr Ahmadi said: “His grandfather is a tribal elder in the village and the village is under the control of the Taleban. His grandfather said some good things about the Government and he formed a small group of people to stand against the Taleban. That’s why the Taleban killed his grandson in revenge.”

The attack happened in Heratiyan, in Sangin, near where insurgents shot down an American Pave Hawk helicopter on Wednesday, killing all four crew. The helicopter was swooping over the town to suppress attacks on a grounded air ambulance, which was picking up British casualties.

Shamsuddin Khan Faryie, an elder in Heratiyan, said that the boy, identified as the son of Abul Qudooz, was seized as he played in his garden. He was found hanged from a nearby tree.

Mr Faryie said that there were conflicting reports within the village over who was responsible. “Some people said that it was Taleban,” he said. “Some people said they were private enemies. Some Taleban I spoke to said that he was a spy. Some said that it wasn’t them.”

The killing of children to punish their families has echoes of Western mafia-style violence. Under Pashtunwali, the ancient honour code of the Pashtuns, it is likely to provoke more vendettas and blood-letting.

Qari Yousef Ahmaid, the Taleban spokesman, denied that any of his militants were involved. “The Taleban’s enemies are the Afghan Government and the foreign forces,” he said. “We never kill children. Everyone knows a seven-year-old can’t be a spy.”