This picture taken on December 3, 2018 shows Murtaza Ahmadi sitting next to his mother inside their home in Kabul. - Murtaza Ahmadi moved the world with his love for footballer Lionel Messi in 2016. (Photo by: NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Afghan Boy Hunted By Taliban After Lionel Messi Meeting

Murtaza Ahmadi’s notoriety has put him and his family in danger.

Seven-year-old Murtaza Ahmadi tugged at the world’s heartstrings when his dream of meeting footballer Lionel Messi, a famous soccer player, came true in 2016. But now, that dream is a distant memory as little Murtaza and his family are living in a nightmare.

The Ahmadi family, along with hundreds of other desperate families, are fleeing the aggressive fighting taking place in the Ghazni province. The Ahmadi family is especially worried as the Taliban has mentioned their young boy by name: “(They) said if they capture him, they will cut him into pieces,” Shafiqa, the young boy’s mother explained to the AFP.

Afghan forces have forced back the Taliban in Jaghori, but that still hasn’t calmed the Ahmadi family’s nerves. The family is still on the receiving end of threats and extortion attempts. This isn’t the first time the family has had to flee —  in 2016 they fled to Pakistan.

Read the full story at The Peninsula