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Taliban target this 7-year-old Afghan boy because he met Lionel Messi!


Kabul, Feb 14: In any other part of the world, this will sound insane but not in Afghanistan where the abnormal is the normal.

Murtaza Ahmadi

Seven-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi has become a prime target of the Taliban ever since he earned the global spotlight as a die-hard fan of Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi because the extremists do not excuse anybody for playing football.

In early 2016, Murtaza found himself fortunate to get two autographed shirts along with a signed football and opportunity to meet Messi in Qatar and turn a celebrity overnight.

The Taliban didn't like the boy's change of stature and in November the same year, came in Jaghori district of Afghanistan's Ghazni province where Murtaza grew up to find him, as per a report in the CNN.

Afghanistan: 10 killed, 19 injured after Taliban attacked military installation in Kabul

"The Taliban were killing our relatives and they were searching houses. They would stop cars and kill their passengers, searching houses and killing people," Ahmadi was quoted as saying by CNN.

"We were not allowed to play football by the Taliban or even go out of the house. We used to hear the sound of heavy machine guns, and Kalashnikovs, and rockets at home. We also heard people screaming."

The family of Murtaza started experiencing hardships as the Taliban and other groups started suspecting that the Argentine star might have given the boy a lot of money and as a result of the danger, Murtaza had to give up going to school, his mother said.

Murtaza and his mother fled to Kabul but yet feel threatened

It was the boy's father who eventually helped him and his mother to escape to the nearby city of Bamyan to avoid the threat and from there, they went to Kabul where they hid among refugees.

But Murtaza's mother is still not assured thinking that her son could bet kidnapped some day because of his links with Messi, the CNN report added.

The plight of Murtaza's family has become worse for it belongs to the Hazara minority community, an Afghan Shia community who are targeted by the Taliban and the Islamic State's Afghanistan unit called IS-K, the report added.

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