Gunmen Close Girls’ School in Afghanistan

In the seventh incident in a series of attacks on girls’ schools in Afghanistan, gunmen recently forced a school in the Wardak province that served 1,300 girls to close. The government-run newspaper, the Arman-e-Millie Daily, reported that the gunmen threatened students at the school southwest of the Afghan capitol, Kabul, according to Reuters.

This attack follows the burning of two girls’ schools in the northern provinces as well as three in the southeastern province of Zabul over the past few weeks. The schools in the northern provinces were burned shortly after pamphlets were distributed around mosques in those areas warning women to continue wearing their burqas. Among the two dozen people arrested in connection with that incident were four local clerics sympathetic to the fundamentalist Taliban, according to Reuters. Under the Taliban, girls were prohibited from attending school.

In addition, a girls’ school was bombed in the Ghazni province last month. There were no casualties, but the school had to be closed for several days, delaying the education of Afghan girls, according to Reuters.

Despite the continued violence in Afghanistan, the State Department last month issued a report questioning the expansion of peacekeeping troops outside of Kabul. Afghan women have indicated that security is their top priority. Threats to Loya Jirga delegates who have spoken out for human rights, including Minister of Women’s Affairs Dr. Sima Samar; the assassination of two government ministers; violence against women in the Northern provinces; violence against humanitarian aid workers; and the continued use of tactics of intimidation against the return of girls to school show the need for expansion of peace keeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is desperate.

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Reuters 10/14/02; Feminist Daily News Wire

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