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Afghan boys suffer mental scars after suicide bomb

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By Tahir Qadiry
November 20, 2007

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Afghan schoolboy Naqibullah fears closing his eyes.

Each time he tries to go to sleep, he relives a suicide bombing that killed dozens of his classmates.

“I dream about the attack. I see the wounded and dead bodies around me,” said Naqibullah, 14, who was wounded in the blast two weeks ago in the northern Afghan town of Baghlan.

The bomber blew himself up as boys from a high school lined up to greet a group of parliamentarians visiting a sugar factory.

Survivors are suffering dangerous psychological scars, doctors say.

Khalilullah Narmgoy, the head of the local hospital, said most of the children, while slowly recovering from their physical wounds, needed long-term psychological care.

“Most of these children are suffering from depression,” he said. “I, as a doctor, who was standing 15 meters (yards) from the attack, have been affected by it. I was shocked by it and now dream about dangerous things.”

The blast killed 72 people, including 52 schoolboys and five of their teachers. Six parliamentarians also died.

“I panic badly. I dream about very dangerous things and wake up shouting,” said Lotfullah, 14, who is also being treated for wounds in the Baghlan hospital.

Parents worried how their children would cope.

“My son wakes up crying every night. We are very worried about him … He speaks about the dead and dogs following him,” said Nafisa. The blast killed one son and wounded another.

Mohammad Shokor’s son was about to undergo an operation.

“I don’t know how he will live. He is badly frightened. He talks nonsense to himself.”

Other parents had stopped sending their children to school.

“Our survey shows parents were also badly scared by this attack,” said Narmgoy.

“They either do not send their children to school, or if they go they cannot concentrate on their lessons.”

Dr. Kaneshka Urmiz, a psychologist, warned the sudden and violent shock the boys had suffered, unless treated, might affect them badly in later life.

“These children could grow up to be thugs or criminals in the future … They can be depressed and dangerous people, unless they are looked after.”

Taliban insurgents have killed more than 200 civilians in at least 130 suicide bombs this year, but denied responsibility for the Baghlan attack. Police and officials are tight-lipped over results from their ongoing investigation into the bombing.

(Writing by Jon Hemming, editing by David Fogarty)

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Written by afghandevnews

November 21, 2007 at 3:57 pm

Posted in Health

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