January 17, 2013
Child Abuse: Terrorist Groups Use Children To Engage In #Mali Fighting
Bamako/Dakar — Children are playing a major role in the Islamists' war effort, say eye-witnesses and human rights groups, who report children are taking an active part in fighting, patrolling, scouting combat zones, and staffing checkpoints.Hamas also uses children as human shields. Like other terrorists groups mentioned here, Hamas also pimps children out to fellow 'akhi'
Oumar Diakité, a resident of Konna in Mopti Region, central Mali, which Islamist groups tried to capture on 11 January prompting intervention by French forces, told IRIN: "Young children have been recruited. These children are sent on scouting missions to collect intelligence... And during clashes, they put these children - often just Koranic students - into the front line." Konna has still not been recaptured, according to French military sources.
Children have been seen staffing checkpoints in areas that came under aerial bombardment from French forces, according to a 15 January Human Rights Watch (HRW) communiqué.
Diakité told IRIN: "They [recruiters] make them believe that if they die they'll go straight to paradise because they are defending God's will. I know a woman who had her son in the ranks. Luckily we were able to find him and save him just in time."
In and around the northern city of Gao the mothers of children who were recruited have been trying to find their children, said residents.
HRW says children as young as 12 have been seen taking active part in fighting, many of them carrying AK-47s or hunting rifles. According to them, Islamic groups Ansar Dine, Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have recruited, trained and used several hundred children in their forces since April 2012.
Recruitment ramped up a couple of months ago, said Dufka.[More...]