The ordeal of an Afghan teenager forcibly recruited by the Taliban

The ordeal of an Afghan teenager forcibly recruited by the Taliban

When the Taliban arrived in the city of Kunduz (north), 17-year-old Abdullah was forced to fight alongside them, after a brief training that only served him as a carrier of about twenty kilos of firearms.

The young man arrived with his family to take refuge in Kabul like thousands of Afghans, fleeing the lightning offensive of the insurgents who took control of the country, causing the departure of the government of the now former president Ashraf Ghani.

Abdullah and his family settled in a tent in a northern suburb of the capital. From there he recounts the horror of his last day in his city.

This young Afghan man knew that the Taliban would soon reach his neighborhood, but was shocked when they stopped him in the street, took him to a nearby hill, and forced him to carry weapons: a bag of RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) heads at the back, about twenty kilos, and a box of ammunition in each hand.

– Threats to parents –

With his face marked by acne, Abdulá claims to have recognized, together with the Taliban, several students from a Madrassa (Koranic school) near Kunduz. The Taliban recruited 30 to 40 young people there, some as young as 14.

“They asked them to take up arms and join their ranks. And when his parents came to ask for his release, they threatened them with weapons,” said the teenager.

Abdullah’s ordeal lasted three hours. Later, his relatives managed to convince the Taliban to release him, so the family decided to flee and he went out to tell his grandfather.

But the Taliban were still there. Four “Pakistani” fighters, whom Abdullah recognized by their accent, detained him and took him away again to prepare him for combat.

“They beat us. I still have the marks”. An hour later, he was equipped with an M16 rifle. “I was shaking, I couldn’t hold my gun,” recalls Abdullah, who worked at his father’s hairdresser and had never been in combat before.

“There was aerial bombardment and tank fire. Three or four children carrying weapons were hit and died when their bags exploded”, because in front were the Afghan forces reacting in turn.

– In the crash –

Accompanying “half of the Taliban in the group” were killed or wounded. So Abdullah tries his luck, drops his gun and runs off.

It took him an hour to return to his neighborhood: “I was shocked, I couldn’t even recognize our door. When I got home, I wasn’t even sure I was alive.”

The family prepares to flee, borrowing money and even selling the mother’s phone to pay for the trip. “We didn’t bring anything with us. We even sold the food we had,” Abdullah laments.

Everything they left behind went up in smoke when their house was hit by a mortar shell.

After 15 hours of travel, Abdullah finally arrived in Kabul with his parents, his grandfather, his two sisters and three brothers, the youngest of whom is only two and a half years old.

Since then, they have been sleeping on the ground, wearing nothing but the clothes they are wearing and a blanket that was thrown at them the day before by “a businessman passing by”.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.