February 22, 2011:
The UN recently released a study of children's (anyone under age 18) deaths in Afghanistan. For the two years ending August 30, 2010, 1,795 children died from hostile action. About 75 percent died because of Taliban (or other anti-government group) action. Most of the time, children were simply nearby when a terrorist bomb went off, or were killed while being used as human shields. At least nine kids were murdered (one as young as seven) because they were thought to be giving information to the police or foreign troops. An increasing number are being used as suicide bombers, and dozens have been found among dead Taliban fighters.
One of the reasons Afghanistan has the lowest life expectancy (about 44 years) in Eurasia is that so many children die. Usually the cause is disease, accidents or starvation. But there is also a casual attitude towards protecting children, something seen in government security forces as well, but much more so among the Taliban.