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Taliban deny suicide attack plot using 10-year-old girl

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 9:33 p.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban denied on Tuesday that they dispatched a 10-year-old girl to carry out a suicide attack against Afghan police, a day after the girl said her brother wrapped her in an explosives-packed vest but that she refused to blow herself up at a checkpoint in Helmand province.

Border police in the southern Afghan province arrested the girl's father, Abdul Ghfar, and were searching for the brother, a police commander said. The girl, who was detained on Monday and identified herself only as Spozhmai, said her brother is a Taliban commander.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahamdi denied any involvement in the alleged plot, which he dismissed as government propaganda.

“We never do this, especially with girls,” he said.

Spozhmai spoke to journalists on Monday once Afghanistan's Interior Ministry announced her detention and said she is 10 years old.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the Taliban, saying that “using a child as a suicide bomber is un-Islamic and goes against Afghan culture and beliefs.”

Although the Taliban deny it, human rights groups contend the insurgent group has occasionally dispatched children for suicide missions. But girls have been used only rarely, said Heather Barr, Afghanistan senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

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