New York, 19 January 2008 – Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, strongly condemns the increasing number of attacks claimed by the Taliban insurgents and other armed groups that utilize and target children.

Ms. Coomaraswamy particularly appalled by three recent incidents: in January five schools in North -West Pakistan were blown up after an edict in December ordering all private schools to close; on December 28, a suicide car bomb killed school children in Mandozayi District; on December 14, a 13-year-old boy was used as a suicide bomber against British troops operating in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, killing himself and three soldiers.

The Secretary-General’s recent report on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan (S/2008/695) was issued in November 2008. It confirms that the Taliban continue to train and use children as suicide bombers as well as indiscriminately target children in the conflict areas of Afghanistan.

Ms. Coomaraswamy also expressed grave concern about the increase in the number of child victims of attacks against schools by Taliban insurgents who deny children the right to education. The throwing of acid to prevent girl children and female teachers from going to school is deplorable.

The Special Representative strongly urges the Taliban and other armed groups to immediately stop using children and cease attacks against civilians, especially children. “Children must be protected and not targeted,” Ms. Coomaraswamy concluded.

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