KABUL: Two people were killed when three blasts struck the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Saturday, at least one of which targeted a Taliban vehicle, in the country’s first deadly attack since the United States withdrew.

The Taliban stormed to power in mid-August, ousting the government and promising to restore security to the violence-wracked country.

“In one attack a Taliban vehicle patrolling in Jalalabad was targeted,” a Taliban official who asked not to be named said.

United Nations says it’s worried about girls’ education

“Women and children were among the injured,” he added.

An official from the health department of Nangarhar Province said that three people died and 18 were wounded, while several local media reported the attacks left at least two dead.

Pictures taken at the site of the blast showed a green pickup truck with a white Taliban flag surrounded by debris as armed men looked on.

Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar, the heartland of the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s Afghanistan branch.

A chaotic US-led evacuation of foreigners and Afghans who worked for international forces was marred by a devastating bomb attack claimed by IS which killed scores of people.

But since the last American troops left on August 30, the violence-wracked country plagued by fighting, bombs and air strikes, has been free of major incidents.

Differences over religion and strategy have led to bloody fighting between the Taliban and IS.

Secondary schools

Saturday’s bombing came as the Taliban ordered boys and male teachers to return to secondary school in Afghanistan — but girls were excluded.

“All male teachers and students should attend their educational institutions,” a statement said ahead of classes resuming on Saturday, the first day of the week in Afghanistan.

The statement, issued late on Friday, made no mention of women teachers or girl pupils.

“We lack teachers, most of them are females and are not allowed to come by the new government; that creates a problem for us,” an official at a Kabul secondary school said.

Secondary schools, with students typically between the ages of 13 and 18, are often segregated by sex. During the Covid-19 pandemic, they have faced repeated closures and have been shut since the Taliban seized power.

Since a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001, significant progress has been made in girls’ education, with the number of schools tripling and female literacy nearly doubling to 30 per cent.

However, the change was largely limited to the cities. The United Nations said it was “deeply worried” for the future of girls’ schooling in Afghanistan.

“It is critical that all girls, including older girls, are able to resume their education without any further delays. For that, we need female teachers to resume teaching,” the UN’s children’s agency Unicef said.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2021

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