Monday, January 30, 2006

Targeting Progress In Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, Taliban guerrilla fighters are targeting schools:
Taliban insurgents have torched three schools in a restive southern province of Afghanistan, the latest attacks in the militants' campaign against the U.S.-backed government and its efforts to promote education.

The three newly built schools, where 1,000 boys and girls studied, were gutted on Friday night in different parts of Nawa district in Helmand province, said provincial education chief Mohammad Qasim.

"I can say that the Taliban were behind this," Qasim told Reuters on Saturday, adding that no one was hurt in the attacks.

Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

The Taliban banned girls from school during their rule, which ended when they were ousted by U.S.-led forces in late 2001 after the Islamists refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, architect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Since then, insurgents battling U.S. and government forces have launched numerous attacks on schools and teachers, including deadly attacks in recent weeks in Helmand, where British troops will soon be based.

Suspected Taliban gunmen dragged a teacher from his classroom and shot him at the gates of his school in December after he had ignored warnings to stop teaching boys and girls, officials said.

In a separate attack, also in December, gunmen shot and killed an 18-year-old male student and a guard at another school in Helmand. The gunmen opened fire on teachers and said they would be killed unless the schools were shut down, police said.

In Zabul province, also in the south, a teacher was dragged from his home and beheaded last month.

Dozens of people, most of them civilians, have been killed in a wave of attacks -- including 13 suicide bombings -- across Afghanistan's south and east in recent months.

The government blames Taliban fighters and their al Qaeda allies, saying the militants want to frighten off NATO members from a planned expansion of their Afghan peacekeeping force.
In a land where girls weren't even allowed to attend schools until recently, I can't say that I'm surprised that such barbarous tactics are being used by those who would turn back the clock to the Dark Ages.

Our thoughts go out to the students and educators who have to labor under such awful conditions.
See last week's Carnival Of Education right here and our latest education-related posts over there.