Reuters, April 17, 2002

Afghan Woman Teacher Attacked with Acid

CHAMAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - An unidentified man threw acid on an Afghan woman teacher in Kandahar soon after threatening pamphlets appeared in the former Taliban stronghold, a city official said Wednesday.

The man sprinkled acid on the teacher Tuesday as she went home from school, then tried to flee, Commander Dost Mohammad told Reuters in the Pakistan border town of Chaman.

"But the people caught him and handed over to the authorities," he said.

The hand-written pamphlets in Kandahar, the southern Afghan city from which Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar ran the ultra-Islamic movement, warned men not to send their daughters to schools or their women to work.

Mohammad said he did not know how badly hurt the woman was, but said the Kandahar authorities had arrested 37 people named by the detained man and found more acid.

"Five of them were wearing the Afghan military uniform," he said.

Mohammad said all detainees were being questioned at Kandahar airport where U.S. troops are holding more than 200 members of the Taliban and their allies in al Qaeda, blamed by Washington for the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The Taliban, who controlled most of Afghanistan until ousted in December, banned women from leaving their homes unless clad in an all covering burqa and accompanied by a male relative.

They barred girls over the age of nine from school and the re-opening of many schools last month was regarded as a major step on the way to recovery for a country after 23 years of war.

Khalid Pashtoon, a spokesman for Kandahar governor Gul Agha, told Reuters some threatening pamphlets attributed to Jaish-e-Islami, or Army of Islam, an unknown Islamic group, had been found in Kandahar.

"It may be Jaish-e-Mohammad," he said, referring to a Pakistan-based militant group fighting Indian rule in disputed Kashmir region which Islamabad banned in January.

Similar hand-written leaflets were found last week in and around Spinboldak, just across the border from Chaman, warning people of reprisals if they helped track down Taliban or al Qaeda militants.

"The American forces will leave the country sooner or later, but you will remain here," one of the leaflets read. "People helping Afghan security forces are being marked."

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