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Calling child suicide bombers a "fearful and terrifying truth," President Hamid Karzai on Sunday freed a 14-year-old Pakistani boy arrested in eastern Afghanistan the night before he planned to kill a provincial governor.
Rafiqullah, who goes by one name, told The Associated Press in an interview over the weekend while attending a madrassa, or religious school, in Pakistan he and two other boys were separated from the rest of the students and trained to drive a car and made to watch videos of suicide bombers carrying out attacks.
The teenager said he walked across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border into Khost province, where a man named Abdul Aziz gave him a vest full of explosives. Rafiqullah said he told Aziz he was afraid of carrying out a suicide bombing, and Aziz pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him if he didn't.
Rafiqullah's intended target was the governor of Khost province.
"Today we are faced with a fearful and terrifying truth, and that truth is the sending of a Muslim child to carry out a suicide attack," Karzai told reporters at the presidential palace.
"(His parents) sent him to study at a madrassa," he said. "The enemy of Islam deceived him and prepared him to carry out a suicide attack to kill himself and other people around him."
Afghanistan's intelligence service first showed off Rafiqullah to reporters last week at a news conference also attended by the boy's father, Matiullah. The two shed tears and hugged in front of journalists.
The father last week said he asked his son's teachers at the religious school he attends where his boy was, but couldn't get a clear answer.
"I didn't know my son was going to carry out a suicide attack in Afghanistan," Matiullah said.
Karzai, putting his hand on the boy's shoulder on Sunday, blamed those who tried to get him to carry out the attack: "He is not guilty ... I forgive him and I wish him the best of luck."