The Hindustan Times, January 31, 2007

Militants torch school in Afghanistan

Taliban burned 183 schools and killed 61 teachers and students in the past one and a half years

Insurgents burned down a primary school in southeastern Afghanistan, police said on Wednesday, in the second such attack this year targeting the country's struggling education system.

The primary school was set ablaze overnight in the Kharwar district of Logar province, the Afghan interior ministry, which controls the police, said in a statement.

"The ministry condemns this unforgivable action of foreign mercenaries," it said, without referring to any particular country or group.

Similar attacks in the past have always been blamed on the remnants of the Taliban regime. The Afghan government says the militants are supported by circles in neighbouring Pakistan.

The fundamentalist Taliban have waged a bloody insurgency since they were toppled from power by a US-led offensive in late 2001. The violence claimed over 4,000 lives in 2006, the worst year since the invasion.

Police launched an investigation "to bring to justice the culprits".

In a similar incident on January 1, a newly built school for refugee children was torched in eastern Nangarhar province.

There was a spate of similar attacks last year on schools and teachers.

Education Minister Hanif Atmar said last week that the Taliban had burned down 183 schools and killed 61 teachers and students in the past one and a half years.

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