Turkey wedding suicide bomber: Islamic State has history of using children as weapons

The suicide attacker who detonated his explosives amid an outdoor Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people, was an Islamic State group child as young as 12 years old.

AP August 22, 2016 07:56:42 IST
Turkey wedding suicide bomber: Islamic State has history of using children as weapons

Beirut: The suicide attacker who detonated his explosives amid an outdoor Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people, was an Islamic State group child as young as 12 years old.

The extremist group has a history of using children as weapons, sending them to their death strapped with explosives and putting them on front lines in Iraq and Syria.

Turkey wedding suicide bomber Islamic State has history of using children as weapons

Ambulances at the bombing site in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey. AP

The group maintains an army of child soldiers, which it calls "cubs of the caliphate," and seeks to re-educate children at IS-run schools, indoctrinating them with their own radical version of Islam and exposing them to violent acts including beheadings as part of a concerted effort to build a new generation of militants.

Islamic State videos have shown boys killing IS opponents through beheadings and shootings. But the practice is not restricted to the Islamic State group and has been used by other militant groups.

Here's a look at some: Islamic State group

The group has deployed child suicide bombers to stage attacks in both Iraq and Syria. Among the most deadly attacks was a bombing at a youth soccer game at a stadium south of Baghdad on 25 March, 2016.

A bomber believed be a teenager detonated his explosives as officials were handing out trophies to players after the tournament, killing 29 and wounding 60. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility and released a photo of the attacker where he appears to be no more than 16 years old.

Nearly half of those killed were also children, participating in the soccer game or cheering from the stands.

The UN's children's agency, Unicef, said in a recent report that thousands of children have been abducted in Iraq. Girls, the group says, are at greatest risk of being sold into sexual slavery while boys are often forced into becoming combatants or suicide bombers.

Human Rights groups and Unicef report a dramatic increase in Boko Haram's use of children as suicide bombers. In a report earlier this year, Unicef said one in five suicide attacks claimed by the militant group across Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad are now carried out by children.

In Nigeria, Human Rights Watch said that since Boko Haram began its attacks in 2009 it has recruited hundred, and possibly thousands, of youngsters and used dozens, mostly girls, as suicide bombers.

Al-Qaeda, the global terrorist network has a history of recruiting children and training them to be suicide bombers. The leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, used teenagers as suicide bombers to fight the American occupation in Iraq before he was killed in a US airstrike in 2006.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq eventually developed into the modern day Islamic State group.

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