'Give us your police car or we will hang your child'

A GRIEVING Afghan policeman said Taleban insurgents who hanged his eight-year-old son phoned him to demand he hand over his patrol car as ransom for the boy before they killed him.

"I was fixing my car at the workshop, the abductor called me three times and asked me to bring them the police car. I said No," Mohammad Dawood, a policeman in western Helmand province, said yesterday, days after his son's death.

He added: "(They] warned me that if I don't bring them the car they will kill my son. I said 'Even if you kill all my family I will not give you police car'. Then I was informed my son is hanged."

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Mr Dawood received that call, telling him where he could find the body of his oldest child, Ibrahim, on Friday.

The insurgents had kidnapped Ibrahim six days earlier, said Colonel Saifurahman Rashidi, Gereshk district police chief and Mr Dawood's boss. His abductors had tricked the boy into getting into their car by telling him his father had been in an accident.

The Taleban initially appeared to claim responsibility for killing the boy in a text message. They could not be reached for further comment yesterday.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the killing "as a brutal and cowardly crime that is not acceptable in any religion or culture".

Last month an eight-year-old Afghan girl was killed when a bag of explosives given to her by Taleban insurgents exploded as she approached a police outpost in southern Afghanistan.

In May, Afghan police paraded four boys, all under 13, they said had been recruited by the Taleban as suicide bombers from their homes in Pakistan.

The Taleban later denied its fighters were recruiting children to carry out suicide attacks.