MIRAMSHAH: Militancy has again reared its ugly head in North Waziristan Agency as two schools for girls there have been hit by bomb explosions and pamphlets warning locals not to send grown-up girls to educational institutions have been distributed widely.

Residents said the boundary wall of a middle school for girls, situated in the Hasokhel area of Mirali tehsil, was blown up on Wednesday night. Another middle school for girls was bombed in the same tehsil on Monday night, they said. The blast partially damaged the school’s main building.

When contacted, however, local administration officials expressed ignorance about the bombing of two schools.

Meanwhile, a pamphlet distributed purportedly by a militant group called Ittehadul Mujahideen North Waziristan warned residents against sending grown-up girls to schools. “We will not tolerate to see grown-up girls going to schools in various areas,” it said. Middle schools in different parts of the tribal agency received copies of the pamphlet on Tuesday. The tribal elders who have been supporting the authorities also received pamphlets, which asked them not to support government policies.

The bombing of schools and distribution of controversial pamphlets have put a question mark over the government’s claims that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), particularly the North Waziristan Agency, has been cleared of militants.

Incidents of targeted killing and bomb blasts have been reported frequently from the area. Tensions have spiked at a time when most of the internally displaced persons have returned to their homes and the government has started rebuilding schools there.

Also, the directorate of education for Fata and the army have opened a network of cadet colleges and army public schools in different parts of North Waziristan.

Militants used to frequently bomb educational institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata before the launch of military operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan Agency in June 2014. Militancy badly affected enrolment in schools and colleges, particularly those of girls, in Fata.

About 1,500 schools have been destroyed in the tribal belt during the last 10 years. Before Zarb-i-Azb only one girls’ school was operational in Miramshah, which was situated inside a high-security zone.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2018

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