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Militants bomb a girls school in northwestern Pakistan

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Kabul: Militants detonated a bomb at a girls’ school located in a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban in the volatile northwest region of the country, causing significant damage to the structure, as reported by police on Thursday. Fortunately, there were no casualties in the overnight attack.

The incident occurred late Wednesday targeting the sole girls’ school in Shawa, a town situated in the North Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which shares a border with Afghanistan, according to local police chief Amjad Wazir. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack thus far.

UNICEF strongly condemned the bombing, labeling it as a “despicable and cowardly act” that poses a threat to the educational prospects of numerous young and talented girls. The police chief indicated that prior to triggering the explosives at the Aafia Islamic Girls Model School, which enrolls 150 students, the attackers assaulted the school guard.

It is highly likely that Islamic militants, particularly the Pakistani Taliban, will be suspected of involvement in the attack, given their history of targeting girls’ schools in the province, citing opposition to female education.

Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF representative in Pakistan, characterized the destruction of the girls’ school in an underprivileged area as a severe setback to national progress. He referenced Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent declaration of an education emergency and commitment to enrolling 26 million out-of-school children.

Until 2019, Pakistan experienced numerous attacks on girls’ schools, particularly in regions like the Swat Valley and other parts of the northwest where the Pakistani Taliban exerted influence. In recent years, the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, were expelled from Swat and other areas. Although distinct from the Afghan Taliban, Pakistan considers the TTP a close ally of the group that seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.

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