The use of rape as a weapon of war is increasingly common, but the brutality of the case in Afghanistan is unprecedented. On Oct. 2, a witness said, soldiers in Afghan National Army uniforms took a young boy from his home in a remote region of northern Afghanistan and subjected him to a horrifying assault. He was taken to a vehicle and then released, but died of his injuries.
Four men were arrested Sunday for suspected involvement in the killing.
It is unclear what role the government played in the boy’s death, though Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Dawlat Waziri said he had detained four “members of a group that tried to disrupt national security.” President Ashraf Ghani said he would prosecute them “in accordance with the law.” He also ordered authorities to bring charges against the alleged attackers within days.
“No single criminal in this country will be spared,” Mr. Ghani said in a statement.
The authorities made an uncharacteristic statement last year when allegations of child rape by troops and militiamen were made.
“There are no secrets or hushed voices regarding the existence of children being sexually abused and raped in some areas of the country,” the country’s defense minister, Tariq Shah Bahrami, told The Washington Post in August.
The government admitted a year ago that officials and commanders in Afghanistan’s northeast were the perpetrators. The official said at the time that 38 soldiers and officers at a military training center were convicted of raping and abusing children in the Sayadzai district of Balkh province.
More recently, a spokesman for the Afghan Health Ministry said in August that at least 400 children were subjected to rape in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2014.
“The situation has never reached the point where it affects the state of the country,” the ministry spokesman, Waheed Majrooh, said in a statement. “The Taliban, also, have their hand in this kind of violence. They hide it with their ideology, but it is nothing new.”