QUETTA/NORTH WAZIRISTAN: Some parts of a girls’ middle school were gutted after unknown armed men attempted to set fire to the building in Surab district of Kalat division, officials said on Thursday.

This was the second act of arson targeting a girls’ school in a week.

On Tu­­esday, some unidentified terrorists tor­­ched an institution in North Waziristan.

According to officials, the attackers entered the school in Killi Dhamb tehsil on We­­dnesday night and set the staff room on fire.

The staff room was completely gutted, while some other areas of the school were damaged.

Some parts of building gutted following attack in Kalat; ex-teacher held for North Waziristan arson

The attackers escaped before police arrived on the scene and put out the fire with the help of local administration.

According to police, there was no night guard posted at the school.

A case under terrorism laws has been registered against unknown miscreants, and police have started an investigation.

Several government and private scho­ols had been burnt by miscreants in the past in Kech and Panjgur districts, while similar cases were also reported in other areas of the province a few years ago.

Ex-teacher held for arson

Police in North Waziristan district have arrested a former teacher for his alleged involvement in Tuesday’s torching of the girls’ middle school in Shakimar area of Razmak tehsil.

The accused, identified as Faridullah, was a teacher at the Golden Arrow Girls Middle School, which was gutted in a blaze on Monday night.

The FIR registered at the Razmak police station stated that five masked armed men entered the school premises after scaling the walls and forcibly took the keys before setting equipment and furniture on fire.

The complainant had named raised Mr Faridullah as suspect and investigation established his involvement in the attack, according to police sources.

The school administration had banned the accused’s entry into the premises due to several reported incidents of misbehaviour.

Local elders have appreciated the arrest and demanded exemplary punishment for the accused.

The school was constructed by a welfare organisation along with the Pakistan Army’s 7th Division in 2020.

There were at least 500 girls enrolled in the school at the time of the attack.

Earlier in March, unknown attackers had destroyed the school’s solar power system, which caused panic among the school students, but the area’s elders had persuaded the girls to continue their education.

Attacks on schools have recently surged in North and South Waziristan districts.

On May 9, terrorists had set a girls’ private school in Shawa area of South Waziristan district on fire.

The school was, however, reopened after it was repaired on the orders of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Eight days later, on May 17, unidentified terrorists blew up an under-construction girls’ private school in lower South Waziristan district.

The back-to-back attacks have alarmed the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training, which has asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for prompt action.

“It is particularly disheartening to note that these heinous acts of terror-ism are disproportionately targeting institutions dedicated to girls’ education,” the ministry’s secretary stated in a letter addressed to the KP chief secretary.

“The federal government is deeply alarmed by these developments, which not only endanger the lives of our children but also threaten the progress we have made in promoting education and gender equality in these regions,” it said, adding that the education of girls was “a cornerstone of the national development strategy” and these actions were “an attack on the future of the nation”.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2024

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