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Refugee school torched in eastern Afghanistan

There was a spate of similar attacks last year on schools and teachers that were mostly blamed on Taliban rebels.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2007 18:50 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Rebels torched a newly built school for refugee children in eastern Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday, in the first such attack in 2007 blamed on Taliban militants.

There was a spate of similar attacks last year on schools and teachers that were mostly blamed on Taliban rebels conducting an insurgency to overthrow the government and expel foreign troops trying to bring stability.

The school set alight Monday night in the eastern province of Nangarhar near the border with Pakistan was made up of tents from the UN children's fund, UNICEF, provincial spokesman Hazrat Hussain said.

"Five tents of a new UNICEF-built school were burned down last night in Behsud district," he said.

Hussain blamed the attack on the "enemies of Afghanistan", a term often used by Afghan officials to refer to the Taliban movement ousted from government in late 2001.

Gul Pacha Khalizay, the deputy education director of the province, said about 200 boys and girls from a nearby refugee camp used the primary school.

Thousands of Afghans who fled into Pakistan during the country's decades of war have filtered back since the fall of the hardline Taliban, which denied girls an education and allowed the school system to fall into ruin.

The British-based charity Oxfam said in November there had been a five-fold increase in enrolments since the Taliban fell but more than half of children -- about seven million -- were still not in school.

Education minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said in August that suspected Taliban had killed at least 41 teachers and students in Afghanistan in the previous 12 months and security concerns forced 208 schools to close.

First Published: Jan 02, 2007 18:50 IST