By Mirwais Harooni
(Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday met children who had been rescued by authorities before carrying out suicide bombings they had been groomed to do by the Taliban, the president's office said in a statement.
Karzai ordered the younger children sent back to their parents immediately and said the older ones would be returned to their homes after education and reintegration programs.
"There is no bigger crime than to fasten explosives to a child and tell him to go and commit suicide, you will be saved and shrapnel will kill others," a statement quoted Karzai as saying.
The statement added: "Those curs tell lies and by their lies they try to kill children of this nation and draw a bad image of Islam."
Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak last week told Reuters there was an increase in suicide bomb attacks across the country in recent months.
Explaining the increase, Wardak said: "Suicide bombers are more suitable, they are more easy because they don't need many resources, or that much expenditure. But they do need a lot of crafty planning, there is no doubt about it. They also make spectacular news and can change the perception (of the war) very easily."
A suicide bomber Friday set off an hours-long attack on the British Council in Kabul on the 92nd anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Britain, which killed at least nine people and destroyed the building.
(Additional reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, writing by Bryson Hull; Editing by Ron Popeski)