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Afghanistan’s ‘Little Messi’ flees home after Taliban threats, says family

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AFP / Unicef

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Murtaza Ahmadi with a signed Messi shirt, which was despatched to him after being photographed in a do-it-yourself model

A younger Afghan boy who was made well-known on-line for his devotion to footballer Lionel Messi has been compelled to flee his residence for the second time.

Murtaza Ahmadi, now aged seven, went viral in 2016 after being photographed sporting a do-it-yourself Messi shirt, long-established out of a plastic bag.

He later met his hero in Qatar.

His household say they’ve now deserted their residence in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from the Taliban.

They have been dwelling within the south-eastern Ghazni province – which militants have been concentrating on – and have escaped to the capital, Kabul.

They previously sought short-term refuge in Pakistan in 2016, however returned after they ran out of cash, in accordance with AFP information company.

The makeshift shirt

Murtaza was 5 years previous when he wore a plastic-bag shirt within the white-and-blue colors of the Argentine nationwide staff, which Messi captains. It had the participant’s quantity 10 drawn on the entrance with a marker pen.

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Media captionA photograph of five-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi sporting a do-it-yourself Lionel Messi shirt went viral

After a photograph was shared broadly on social networks, individuals referred to as for him to be discovered so Messi may reply.

When the boy’s identify was launched, the participant despatched him a bundle – together with a signed shirt – through the youngsters’s charity Unicef, which he works for as an envoy.

Murtaza was later invited to fulfill Messi when the Barcelona star performed a pleasant in Doha in late 2016. The younger fan walked on to the pitch along with his idol.

The Taliban threats

Nevertheless, his household say they concern the celebrity has made him a Taliban goal.

“Native strongmen have been calling and saying, ‘You’ve gotten develop into wealthy, pay the cash you’ve got acquired from Messi or we are going to take your son’,” his mom, Shafiqa, instructed AFP.

She mentioned weren’t in a position to take any of their belongings – together with the valuable shirt – when then left their residence in the course of the evening after listening to gunshots.

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Murtaza, his mother and father and his 4 brothers reside in a single room in a shared Kabul condo

A house below siege

Murtaza’s household are a part of the Shia-denominated Hazara ethnic group, which has been focused by the Sunni Taliban.

The Ghazni space stays below state management, however it’s thought-about to be of strategic significance within the battle between the federal government and the Taliban.

The hard-line Islamic group launched a significant assault on the world in August and renewed their efforts in November, forcing hundreds of locals to flee. A whole lot of individuals – civilians, troopers, and insurgents – have been killed within the outbreak of violence.

Murtaza’s 17-year-old brother, Humayoon, instructed Efe information company that that they had not been in a position to ship him to high school for the previous two years and they don’t let him play on the street.

“I miss Messi,” Murtaza mentioned, when AFP discovered him in Kabul. He mentioned he hopes to fulfill him once more someday.

“Once I meet him, I’ll say, ‘Salaam’ and ‘How are you?’ Then he’ll reply saying thanks and be secure, and I’ll go along with him to the pitch the place he’ll play and I’ll watch him.”

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