Afghanistan 'suicide vest girl' may be sent home - official

Caroline Wyatt reports from Kabul: ''The child is the latest pawn in a brutal insurgency''

The Afghan authorities say a girl whose brother allegedly sent her on a suicide mission may be returned to her family, despite her plea for a new home.

A presidential spokeswoman told the BBC the girl, thought to be about 10, would only be returned to relatives if tribal elders guaranteed her safety.

On Wednesday the girl appealed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai to "put her in a good place".

She is in protective custody in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

On Monday, the interior ministry said police had detained her wearing a suicide vest after she had been sent to carry out an attack on border police.

The girl is thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, who police say encouraged her to carry out the attack.

"The Ministry of the Interior has been asked to look at this case very closely and investigate it," presidential spokesman Adela Raz told the BBC, adding that "she would be sent home" if the ministry decided that was the right course of action.

Afghan map

"They have to speak to her family and then get a guarantee in front of the tribal leaders, because Afghanistan is a very traditional society. So when a tribe makes a guarantee for something... they have to guarantee the safety of this girl and her family."

In her appeal to Mr Karzai on Wednesday, the child said: "If I go back there, they will do the same to me, they will make me wear the suicide vest.

"I won't go back there. God didn't make me to become a suicide bomber. I ask the president to put me in a good place."

It is not clear how old the child is and the circumstances surrounding her detention are unclear.

According to interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi, an Afghan soldier spotted her wearing a suicide jacket.

Some reports say she could not operate the button to detonate the vest and was then detained.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the girl said she had turned back and gone home when faced with a river she did not want to cross.

She said her father beat her so she ran away and gave herself up to police.

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