South Asia News
100 girls' schools close in Pakistan after militant threats
Oct 1, 2007, 12:44 GMT
Islamabad - More than 100 girls' schools were closed down in north-west Pakistan Monday following the murder of a female teacher by suspected pro-Taliban militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, media reports said.
The teacher was shot dead Saturday in the Mohmand Agency in what appeared to be the fulfilment of threats of reprisals by Islamic extremists if teachers did not start wearing burka head-to-toe veils, the Dawn news channel reported.
Female teachers responded by closing down all girls' schools in the agency in protest.
Sympathizers of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have recently targeted several women's educational institutions in the tribal areas and surrounding North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
Buildings of two adjacent girls' schools were damaged by a powerful blast in the Swat district of NWFP on Saturday night.
A missionary institution for women in the same area was shut for a week in September after it received threats from an Islamic extremist organization accusing the administration of propagating Christianity and obscenity.
Education officials in Swat made the wearing of the burka obligatory for all female students last week after several schools received threatening letters from the same organization.
The frontier province has suffered this year from creeping radicalisation as militants seeking to impose Taliban-style laws and customs began to extend their influence from the mountains into the plain areas.
Music shops, internet cafes and barbers' shops are regular targets for the militants, who also killed over 300 people, including more than 100 security personnel, in retaliatory attacks for the army operation against Islamabad's Red Mosque in July.
Sixteen people were killed and more than 30 injured on Monday when a burka-clad suicide bomber detonated a powerful bomb during a security check in the NWFP town of Bannu.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur