The Taliban are reportedly using young boys, who are used as sex slaves, to attack the Afghan police. The practice of "bacha baazi," in which young boys are sexually exploited, is employed by the militants as they attack security camps, especially in southwestern Afghanistan.
"Bacha baazi" in Afghanistan is a common practice, so much so that U.S. troops in Afghanistan were reportedly told by their seniors to not intervene if their local allies indulged in the practice, the New York Times quoted an American soldier's father as saying. The soldier, who was posted in southern Afghanistan, had confided in his father about orders to look the other way if Afghan officers abused young boys.
It is easier to deal with suicide bombers than "bacha" attackers, a police official in Uruzgan was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse (AFP).
"The Taliban are sending boys — beautiful boys, handsome boys — to penetrate checkpoints and kill, drug and poison policemen. They have figured out the biggest weakness of police forces — bacha bazi," Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Lewanai, fomer police chief of Uruzgan, told the agency.
The Taliban have purportedly managed to kill hundreds of police officials by sending young boys or convincing existing sex slaves, jeopardising a hard-won victory in the region.
One of the survivors of one such attack, Matiullah, said the Dehrawud district's checkpoint commander's sex slave had opened fire and killed six police officials.
"We have a special mujahideen brigade for such operations — all grown men with beards," a Taliban spokesman told AFP. They said "bacha baazi" was banned by them.
The young children are often abducted or are lured with promises of education and employment in a country suffering from poverty. The children are dressed up in make-up and women's clothing and made to dance. They are also passed around among groups of middle-aged men as sex slaves, the Daily Mail reported.
When authorities try to prevent the practice, Afghan officials reportedly threaten to abandon checkpoints if they are directed to let go of the young boys.
The U.S. Congress also expressed its concern in 2015, which led to an investigation being launched by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. However, the investigation is not yet complete.
"We haven't been able to visit even one checkpoint to investigate," head of a government-affiliated agency in Uruzgan was quoted as saying by AFP. "Do you think police commanders will leave us alive if we probe their crimes?"