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Wasil Ahmad was only 10 when the Taliban riddled the door of his home with bullets. His uncle, an agent of the Local Afghan Police, pushed him to enroll and take an AK-47 in his hands to use it against ruthlessly against the enemies. In certain parts of the world you are never too young to start killing.

The soldier even became a national hero after having defended alone the police headquarters for 40 days from the attacks of the Islamic fundamentalists who had just killed his father and seriously injured his uncle. Afghan government rewarded his bravery and made him partake in military parade. The photos of the boy with a gun in his hand won the hearts of the adults. Wasil, however, had one desire: to go back to school, his friends, and never make war again unless it is a game. He had abandoned weapons and embraced normalcy. Until one morning, the Taliban shot him when he left his place to go to the market. A few moments and his black eyes closed. Forever.

His story is only one example of how Afghan paramilitary groups infringe laws and recruit minors. There are hundreds of children who die because of war in the Asian country. According to the organization War Child, there are 250 thousand underage fighters. An army of tiny lives that often disappear in silence because they do not exist officially. “It is time for the government to make its words and actions match – Patricia Gossman, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch told The Guardian – the madness of child recruitment must be stopped.” Often, behind these armed groups there are Western countries, which fund with money and arms the fight against the Taliban without bothering to watch over the respect of rules and human rights. Kabul promptly pointed out that Wasil was not part of the local police, but the truth is that child soldiers exist and their number keeps growing.

On the other side of the barricades the situation is even worse. Among the Taliban fighters there are dozens of children, whose number is difficult to calculate because there are no official documents to examine. According to a recent UN report, however, for every child enrolled in the Afghan forces there seem to be at least 20 children among Islamic extremists (in 2014 alone).

These children are killed twice: the bullet that kills them is only the last act of their miserable existence. Yet, those who kill them first are the adults, people they trust and love. Wasil had died the day his uncle decided for him and pushed him to join the fight, or when his country betrayed him, celebrating him as a hero without protecting his identity, thus feeding him to the media and to his murderers. It is too easy to think that evil is only on one side, but the truth is that the story of this little martyr is a slap in the face of our clean consciences. Wasil’s body finally rests at the Tirin Kot cemetery. How many children have to die before the West notices them?

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