Outsiders blamed for attacks on schools
Education ministry officials on Wednesday said elements outside the country were behind attacks on schools and staff in several Afghan provinces.
Reports say 40 schools have been closed in Ghazni, Nangarhar and Maidan Wardak provinces over the past 20 days due to threats . Another four schools were torched in Nangarhar.
On Tuesday, unknown gunmen killed six education department officials in southeastern Paktia province. Currently 528 schools remain closed in several provinces.
The ministry’s spokesman, Amanullah Iman, said outsiders were behind the closure of schools and that night letters had been circulated to several schools since the start of the current academic year.
Speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, he said the Taliban denied circulating the night letters and blamed foreign intelligence workers. He said foreign elements had agents in the country who threatened teachers and students.
In some provinces, the official acknowledged, the Taliban were cooperating with the government and they even checked teachers’ attendance registers.
About the nature of the threats, he said they included closure of girls’ schools, introducing Taliban-era teaching methods and banning English subjects.
Iman said the schools closed in Ghazni and Nangarhar had been reopened with the help of locals and efforts to reopen another six schools in Maidan Wardak were ongoing.
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pakistani intelligence operatives had held a meeting with Taliban commander Qayyum Zakir, who had been told to attack schools across Afghanistan.
But political analyst, Wadir Safi, rejected the claim as unfounded. Another analyst, Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, accused Westerners of involvement in closing schools
He believed neighbouring countries did not want to see a developed Afghanistan, but Westerners wanted to show the world that security was yet to be restored in the country.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said they were not against education, arguing a large number of schools were operational in areas controlled by the Taliban fighters.