Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered the release of 20 children and teenagers charged with taking part in suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

Karzai met with the offenders at the presidential palace and encouraged them to avoid getting entangled with people who would have them act against the security of their own people and country.

The prisoners, ranging in age from eight to 16, were arrested over the past year by the Afghan National Security Forces.

The meeting was also attended by several senior Afghan officials and members of the clergy.

A number of Afghan officials said that some of these children had undergone training for suicide attacks in Pakistan.

Some of the freed prisoners admitted to having taken such courses in Pakistan in order to carry out suicide attacks in Afghanistan.

Afghan senior cleric Molavi Ghiameddin Keshaf condemned Afghanistan’s enemies for using children in suicide operations.

A 16-year-old resident of southern Kabul, who said he had lost his mother and was living in fear of the Taliban, was sent to Turkey to study by the president’s orders.

Karzai also ordered orphaned children to be sent to education centres, and the rest are to be returned to their families before the end of the holy month of Ramadan.