Information Warfare: Taliban Declares War On Children

Although real or imagined civilian deaths in Afghanistan, caused by foreign troops, makes the news, you don't hear much about the real trends. For example, during the first six months of this year, civilian deaths in Afghanistan are up slightly (to 240-250 a month) over the same period last year. But 80 percent of them are caused by the Taliban, drug gangs and bandits. Civilian deaths from these sources are up more than a quarter from the same time last year. Government and foreign troops caused 14 percent of civilian deaths this year, and the remaining six percent were caused by persons unknown.

A major reason for the increase in civilian deaths is the growing use of anti-personnel mines by the Taliban. While soldiers and police are trained to detect these mines (and sometimes electronic devices and trained dogs are used as well), most civilians walk right onto them. Worse, these mines are usually set to go off for a weight from 10 kg (22 pounds) to 100 kg (220 pounds). That means the mines won't go off if a small animal walks onto it, or a vehicle rolls over it. The lower range covers kids. The Taliban are eager to terrify civilians into submission, and discouraging civilians from using the increasingly common cell phones to call in terrorist locations. The Taliban believe dead children, blown apart by landmines, will do this. Has not worked so well.

The Taliban also use death squads, who just shoot or slit throats. Bombs and mines are more expensive, and are usually used in an attempt kill foreign troops. These efforts tend to kill five times more civilians than foreign troops. While civilian deaths from Taliban action are up, those caused by foreign troops are down. That's not news, but it is what is happening.


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