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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 July 2007, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Karzai pardons 'suicide bomb' boy
Rafiqullah with Hamid Karzai
President Karzai said that Rafiqullah was not to blame
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pardoned a 14-year-old boy caught wearing a suicide vest on his way to assassinate a provincial governor.

Rafiqullah had crossed the border from Pakistan and intended to kill Arsala Jamal, governor of Khost province.

Mr Karzai said Rafiqullah had been deceived by the "enemy of Islam" while attending a religious school.

Pardoning him at the presidential palace, Mr Karzai said: "I forgive him and I wish him the best of luck."

Suicide videos

The president said: "Today we are faced with a fearful and terrifying truth, and that truth is the sending of a Muslim child to carry out a suicide attack.

"[His parents] sent him to study at a madrassa (religious school). The enemy of Islam deceived him."

You are now free and forgiven by the people of Afghanistan
Hamid Karzai

Rafiqullah's father, Matiullah, said he had been unaware of his son's actions and agreed the boy had been deceived by teachers.

He said when he had asked about his son he was not given an answer.

"I am very happy to have my son back," said Mr Matiullah, who is from South Waziristan.

Rafiqullah said: "I am very happy that I am pardoned and released."

map

Rafiqullah said he was trained to drive a car and shown suicide attack videos at the madrassa in Pakistan.

He crossed the border and was met by a man who gave him a suicide vest. Rafiqullah said he did not want to carry out the attack but the man threatened to kill him.

He was caught last month wearing the vest on a motorbike in the city of Khost.

Militants have launched a number of suicide attacks against Afghan, Nato and US-led forces over the past two years.

A number of would-be attackers held in recent weeks have been teenagers.

Afghanistan has urged Pakistan to do more to prevent militants from crossing the border to carry out attacks.

In a message to Pakistan, Mr Karzai called for "better relationships, not cheating the children and encouraging them into terrorism and suicide".




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